National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Control panels and monitors in control room
PSL Control Room

The Propulsion Systems Laboratory (PSL) No. 1 and 2 was used to test a wide variety of engines during its almost 30 years of operation. NACA’s Cleveland lab specialized in aircraft engine research, but its large test facilities were struggling to keep up with the rapid new post-World War II technological advances in propulsion. The addition of the PSL altitude chambers not only permitted the study of new more powerful engines, but also was a key component in the improvement of the overall altitude air system for all of the lab’s test facilities.

Read more about the history of PSL No. 1 and 2:

I. Design and Construction (1948 – 1952): The lab had several large engine test facilities. Design work for PSL began in the late 1940s, and after nearly three years of construction, the first test was run in late 1952.

II. Ramjets and Missiles (1952 – 1957): Initially, PSL No. 1 and 2 were used to study ramjets for missiles and large turbojet engines.

III. Rocket Engines (1958 – 1966): After the launch of Sputnik, the facility concentrated on rocket engines. PSL played a significant role in the development of the RL-10 engine, and contributed to the Apollo Contour and 260-inch engines.

IV. Return to Turbojets (1967 – 1974): As the center returned to aeronautics, PSL was used in conjunction with an F-106 aircraft to calibrate the TF-30 and J85 engines.

V. PSL No. 3 and 4 (1968 – 1972): Two more powerful test chambers with a slightly different design were added to the facility.

VI. Turbofan Engines (1974 – 1979): After PSL No. 3 and 4 began operating in 1972, use of PSL No. 1 and 2 began to decline. Its last major program was a series of nozzle studies for the F-100 engine.

VII. Demolition (1980 – 2009): PSL No. 1 and 2 was mothballed in late 1979. In 2004 the Center decided to remove the facility. Demolition was performed in 2009.

Test chamber lifted into PSL
Ramjet setup in PSL chamber
Rocket setup in PSL chamber
TF-30 turbofan engine