National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Propulsion Systems Laboratory

The Propulsion Systems Laboratory (PSL) is NASA’s only ground-based test facility that provides true flight simulation for experimental research on air-breathing propulsion systems. What is propulsion? Propulsion is a form of energy or power given to something giving it the ability to move. For example, a rocket’s fire gives it propulsion to blast off. PSL is located in building 125 at NASA Glenn where the facility manager is Thomas Hoffman. The facility was built in the early 1970’s.

PSL is comprised mainly of a control room and an experiment room consisting of two cells. The two cells are located on the interior of building 125 are called cell 3 and cell 4. In cell 3 or PSL-3, the Mach ranges from 0 to 3.0, and in cell 4 or PSL-4, the Mach ranges from 0-6.0. Only one cell can be used at a time. The test section is 38 feet long and 24 feet wide in diameter. The altitude of the testing site is approximately 70,000 feet. 

The control room monitors the acquisition systems. Infrared imaging and video monitoring/recording is performed in this room. This room is kept really cold because the combustion of the cells produces a lot of energy and heat. This temperature is used to control the system so that it won’t overheat. Also, when recording data, escort data is stored in the data room, then it is transferred to a different facility as redundancy in the event there is a loss of data.