Historic Photos of NASA's Cavernous Wind Tunnels

Throughout the 20th century, NASA (and its predecessor, NACA) made extensive use of wind tunnels to test and refine designs for airplanes, spacecraft, and many other vehicles and structures. Dozens of specialized tunnels were constructed over the years at Langley Research Center in Virginia and Ames Research Center in California, to test the effects of high windspeed, turbulence, icing, ionization, and much more. Some of these facilities were gigantic—the largest, still in operation, is the 80-foot by 120-foot tunnel at NASA's Ames Research Center. In the 1990s, a surplus of government wind tunnels and advances in computer simulations led to a consolidation, and a number of older facilities were demolished. Gathered here, a collection of images of NASA’s amazing wind tunnels from the past century.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Kevin Winter / Getty for The Recording Academy

    Photos of the Week: Lego Bugatti, Snowy Seattle, Cattle Dating

    Valentine’s Day among humans and animals, family reunions at an Indian border fence, an icy dinosaur in Latvia, snow kayaking in Estonia, International Condom Day in Mexico City, and much more

  • Ozge Elif Kizil / Anadolu Agency / Getty

    Images From Antarctica

    Photos from the past few years of the Antarctic landscape, wildlife, and research facilities, and some of the work taking place there

  • Ralph Morse / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty

    50 Years Ago in Photos: A Look Back at 1969

    A half century ago, humans first set foot on the moon, hundreds of thousands of young people gathered in New York’s Catskill Mountains for a music festival that became a cultural milestone, and so much more.

  • Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty

    Photos From the 2019 Westminster Dog Show

    Images from the two-day competition and preliminary activities held in New York City at Piers 92/94 and Madison Square Garden