July 13, 2012
On Friday July 13th 2012 the Space Academy toured the 10x10ft Abe Silverstein Supersonic Wind Tunnel at Glenn Research Center. The tunnel is the largest and fastest wind tunnel at Glenn Research Center and is one of the largest wind tunnels in the world. The 10×10 was specifically designed to test supersonic propulsion components such as inlets and nozzles, propulsion system integration, and full-scale jet and rocket engines. It can operate as a closed-loop system (aerodynamic cycle) or open-loop system (propulsion cycle), reaching test section speeds of Mach 2.0 to 3.5 and very low speeds from 0 to Mach 0.36. Gust and Mach plates are sometimes installed to expand local Mach number conditions between Mach 1.5 and 4.1. There is also continuous operation across the entire speed and altitude regime, offering users greater flexibility and productivity during testing.
The tour began with a brief talk about the main uses and features of the wind tunnel and moved to a set of models and displays. Next, the Academy viewed the impressive outside of the tunnel where machinery flexes the solid metals walls of the tunnel in and out to adjust internal conditions. The group moved to the inside of the tunnel where we could see the 10x10x40ft area in which testing takes place. Inside the tunnel, the Academy’s guides discussed standard procedures that are necessary for running tests. The final stop of the tour was the control room where the wind tunnel team spends many hours running late night tests.