Chapter 8 - Wind Tunnels of the Future


National Transonic

[The National Transonic Facility under construction at Langley in 1979]



[123] What will the future bring to this symbiotic partnership of aerospace vehicles and wind tunnels? The immediate future, not surprisingly, will probably be shaped primarily by the same force that is now revolutionizing transportation technology: fuel economy. Of course the military craft will always require more and more speed, but energy conservation cannot be entirely ignored here either. In looking toward outer space, the oft mentioned manned mission to Mars, or any ambitious extraterrestrial undertaking for that matter, will be tied to the construction of an efficient, economical method of propelling large payloads into orbit. This can only mean the Space Shuttle and its descendants. Saving energy and money through reusable space vehicles are the predominant forces. Before looking further into the wind tunnel crystal ball, we should examine near future aerospace vehicles and their missions a bit more carefully to see what fresh demands they may place on wind tunnels.