NASA has reopened a newly refurbished wind tunnel that began operating nearly 50 years ago. The 12-foot Pressure Wind Tunnel at the Ames Research Center was built in 1946 and has tested models of most U.S. commercial aircraft in service over the past half century.
The original wind tunnel suffered deterioration of its pressure shell due to extensive use; by 1986, cracks in the tunnel walls had eliminated its pressurization capability. The new wind tunnel was restored at a cost of $115 milion. The project included completely rebuilding the closed-loop pressure vessel and installing an innovative air lock system around the test section.