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AETC Supersonic Facilities

Cutaway drawing of the 8x6 wind tunnel.
This rendering of the 8 x 6 wind tunnel shows the drive motor is at the left, the test section in the center, and the diffuser to the right. The new muffler section extending to the rear redirected the air back towards the facility and away from the nearest residents.

10- by 10-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel

The 10- by 10-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel at GRC is a dual-cycle wind tunnel that operates either as a closed-loop (aerodynamic cycle) or open-loop (propulsion cycle) facility, reaching test section speeds of Mach 2.0 to 3.5. The tunnel can test supersonic aerodynamic and propulsion components such as inlets and nozzles, integrated propulsion systems, full-scale jet and rocket engines, and launch vehicle concepts. It provides continuous operation across the speed and altitude ranges, offering users greater flexibility and productivity during testing. The 10- by 10-foot tunnel has made contributions to the space shuttle, the High-Speed Civil Transport, the National AeroSpace Plane, the Joint Strike Fighter, and to the advancement of fundamental supersonic propulsion technology.

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9- by 7-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel

The 9- by 7-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel at ARC, which shares the drive line with the 11-foot tunnel, has also been used extensively in the development of virtually every domestic fixed wing airframe that operates in supersonic regimes and has played a critical role in space exploration. This facility has provided ascent and reentry aerodynamic data for every NASA-designed, manned space-flight program, including the space shuttle and NASA’s Constellation Program. The facility is also slated to test parachutes for future unmanned probes to Mars.

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8- by 6-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel

The 8- by 6-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel at GRC provides researchers the opportunity to test aerodynamic and propulsion models at subsonic, transonic, and supersonic speeds from Mach 0.25 to 2.0. Specialized support systems, a variety of research test hardware, and a calibrated test section support the development of aircraft, launch vehicles, and their components. Traditional tests include vehicle force and moment, inlet airframe integration, sonic boom mitigation, and inlet performance. The 8- by 6-foot tunnel has supported major programs such as the Advanced Turboprop, the National Aerospace Plane, the Advanced Tactical Fighter, the Joint Strike Fighter, the High-Speed Civil Transport, and the space shuttle.

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4-Foot Supersonic Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel

The 4-Foot Supersonic Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel (UPWT) is a closed-circuit, continuous-flow, variable-density supersonic tunnel with two 4- by 4- by 7-foot test sections. The tunnel is instrumented for force and moment studies, surface-pressure measurements, and flow visualization of on-and-off-surface flow patterns. Tests involving jet effects, dynamic stability, model deformation, global-surface and off-body flow measurements, and heat transfer can also be conducted.

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AETC Ground Facilities



Last Updated
Nov 08, 2023
Lillian Gipson