FREE image of Space Propulsion Research Facility Firing at Plum Brook Station
The Space Propulsion Research Facility, better known as B-2, operating at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio. B-2 is the world's only high altitude test facility capable of full-scale rocket engine and launch vehicle system level tests. It was created to test rocket propulsion systems with up to 100,000 pounds of thrust in a simulated space environment. The facility has the unique ability to maintain a vacuum at the rocket’s nozzle while the engine is firing. The rocket fires into a 120-foot deep spray chamber which cools the exhaust before it is ejected outside the facility. B-2 simulated space using giant diffusion pumps to reduce chamber pressure, nitrogen-filled cold walls create cryogenic temperatures, and quartz lamps replicate the radiation of the sun. This photograph shows the facility undergoing check-out runs prior to its first test in late 1969.The 38-foot diameter and 62-foot tall vacuum chamber is inside the high-bay on the right. Below that is a 67-foot diameter and 120-foot deep spray chamber. The hot rocket exhaust is cooled in the chamber by a spray of 250,000 gallons of water per minute. B-2’s first test was a hot firing of Centaur D-1A rocket on December 18, 1969. Since then the facility has fired more than 100 Pratt and Whitney RL-10 engines during the Centaur development, 80 current RL-10B-2 engines for Delta-3 development, and another 12 RL-10B-2s for the Delta 3 Upper Stage.
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