National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

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Addition of PSL No. 3 and 4 (1967 – 1972)
Drawing of proposed PSL No. 3 and 4
PSL No. 3 and 4

In 1968, twenty years after planning began for the original PSL test chambers, NASA Lewis began preparing to add two additional and more powerful test chambers. The original chambers were an improvement on the Four Burner cells, and the $14 million new PSL No. 3 and 4 chambers would be an improvement on PSL No. 1 and 2. The move coincided with the Center’s return to aeronautics. The new chambers were capable of testing engines twice as powerful any then in existence. PSL No. 1 and 2 were to be closed when the new chambers became operational, but the aeronautics program was busy enough that all four chambers remained active for a number of years.

Documents:
     PSL No. 3 and 4 Fact Sheet (PDF, 200KB)
     PSL No. 3 and 4 Brochure (PDF, 3.13MB)

PSL's New Design
Drawing showing design for PSL No.3 and 4
New PSL Design

The PSL No. 3 and 4 chambers, 40-feet long and 24 feet in diameter, were substantially larger than PSL No. 1 and 2. Also, unlike PSL No. 1 and 2, the two new chambers shared a common exhaust cooler. This gave the new system a Y-shaped appearance. The exhausters and compressors in the original Equipment Building were expanded for the new chambers. Three Pratt and Whitney J57 jet engines were used to supply hot combustion air to the test chambers. New heater and refrigeration systems were built to properly condition this air flow. The air is direct-connected to the engine in the chamber.

After passing through the engine, the hot exhaust air passed through a 17-foot-diameter water exhaust duct and into the 50-foot-diameter primary cooler. Water flows through 2700 tubes inside the cooler that reduces the temperature of the passing air flow from 3000 to 600 °F. A spray cooler further reduces the temperature of the gases to 150 °F before they are sent to the Central Air Building.

Documents:
     Contract Let for PSL Expansion (1968) (PDF, 528KB)

Cooler Model
Cooler Model
PSL No. 3 and 4
PSL No. 3 and 4
Exterior
Exterior
Construction of No. 3 and 4
Construction of PSL cooler
Cooler Installation

Excavations for the new PSL building were completed by October 1967. The shell of the building was completed a year later. In September 1968, work began on the new test chambers and associated infrastructure. The installation of the combustion air, cooling water, and electrical systems began in September 1970. Nearly 5000 tons of steel were used to build the new facility. Construction was completed in late 1972, and the first test was scheduled for February 1973. The team that included all those responsible for the design, construction, and initial operation of PSL No. 3 and 4 was honored by the Lewis Awareness Program in February 1974.

Documents:
     PSL 3-4 Construction Articles (1967-70) (PDF, 1.75MB)
     PSL No. 3 and 4 Operating article (1972) (PDF, 420KB)


Excavation
Excavation
Test Chamber
Test Chamber
Chambers Assembly
Chambers Assembly
PSL Today
Engine being installed in PSL chamber
Engine Installation

Today PSL No. 3 and 4 is NASA’s only facility capable of testing full-scale airbreathing engines at simulated altitude conditions. It can simulate altitudes up to 90,000 feet and speeds up to Mach 3 in one cell and Mach 6 in the other. PSL No. 3 and 4 maintains a busy schedule, and the original Equipment Building remains in use. PSL’s versatility has allowed it to keep pace with unique test requirements for NASA research programs. The facility has also helped develop advanced altitude testing methods such as multi-axis thrust measurement, vectored and reverse exhaust gas collection, flight transient simulation, and others.

Documents:
     Advances in Engine Test Capabilities at PSL (PDF, 231MB)
     Hypersonics Test in PSL article (1998) (PDF, 264KB)

Display in PSL
Display in PSL
PSL Test Cell
PSL Test Cell
Control Room
Control Room