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

  • Marco Ugarte / AP

    Animals in the News

    Time again for a look at the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless species that share our planet

  • Jason Weingart / Barcroft Media via Getty

    Nebraska: Images of the Cornhusker State

    A few glimpses of the landscape of Nebraska, and some of the animals and people calling it home

  • Chris Hyde / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Tinside Lido, Log Climber, Dragon Temple

    The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, wildfire damage in Oregon, flooding in Florida from Hurricane Sally, continued protests in Belarus, smoky skies over Seattle, and much more

  • Marco Bertorello / AFP / Getty

    Scenes From the 2020 Tour de France

    Images from the first 17 stages of this year’s Tour de France cycling race