FREE image of Control Room at the NACA’s Rocket Engine Test Facility
Test engineers monitor an engine firing from the control room of the Rocket Engine Test Facility at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory. The Rocket Engine Test Facility, built in the early 1950s, had a rocket stand designed to evaluate high-energy propellants and rocket engine designs. The facility was used to study numerous different types of rocket engines including the Pratt and Whitney RL-10 engine for the Centaur rocket and Rocketdyne’s F-1 and J-2 engines for the Saturn rockets. The Rocket Engine Test Facility was built in a ravine at the far end of the laboratory because of its use of the dangerous propellants such as liquid hydrogen and liquid fluorine. The control room was located in a building 1,600 feet north of the test stand to protect the engineers running the tests. The main control and instrument consoles were centrally located in the control room and surrounded by boards controlling and monitoring the major valves, pumps, motors, and actuators. A camera system at the test stand allowed the operators to view the tests, but the researchers were reliant on data recording equipment, sensors, and other devices to provide test data. The facility’s control room was upgraded several times over the years. Programmable logic controllers replaced the electro-mechanical control devices. The new controllers were programed to operate the valves and actuators controlling the fuel, oxidant, and ignition sequence according to a predetermined time schedule.
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