National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

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B-1 Test Stand
Photograph from northeast of B-1 complex
B-1 Complex
The B-1 test stand could test 6000-pound thrust engines for 6 minutes. The original design allowed for the fivefold expansion of this capability with only minor modifications. The test chamber was a 13-foot diameter, 30-foot tall space within the tower. B-1 included cryogenic fuel tanks, exhaust gas scrubbers, and large storage trailers for gaseous and cryogenic materials. A two-stage steam ejector provided vacuum pumping to create the low pressures of space. The facility was tied into Plum Brook Station’s data acquisition system.
The B-1 tower faced two rectangle retention ponds to the southwest. The steam accumulators and a steam ejector stack were linked to the southeast wall of the test stand. A rectangular single-story Pump House and a smaller Valve House stood between the test stand and the large retention ponds. A water tower was to the west of the ponds. In 1965 a railroad spur was added to the facility to supply additional liquid hydrogen.
Photograph of exterior of B-1
B-1 Stand
The B-1 test stand was a 135-foot tall vertical tower elevated on steel trestles. It was enclosed above the 68-foot level, and an enclosed elevator shaft extended to the ground in the west corner. Initially each of the walls in the upper section contained three sets of 12-paned windows and a narrow vent window. By 1964, however, roll-up doors replaced the windows on the southeast, southwest, and northwest walls. The doors provided ventilation in the event of a hydrogen leak. The walls and roof were corrugated galvanized steel. A ridge vent ran along the peak of the roof.

B-1 Elevation Drawing (JPG, 3.24MB)

Photograph from top of B-1
View from Top
Photograph of interior of B-1 tower
Interior of Stand
Photograph from upper level of B-1 to ground
View from upper level
Ground Level
The base of the test stand was approximately 34 feet across and 42 feet deep. This was an open concrete slab except for a narrow stairwell and elevator shaft and equipment room at the west end. The elevator and stairs terminated at the test section on the 68-foot level. The 40.5- by 27.25-foot and approximately 11-foot-tall shop area with 1-foot thick concrete was adjacent to the northwest side of the test stand. It contained a terminal room and restroom, and a monorail crane ran across the ceiling. Adjacent to the shop area was a concrete shelter with two bays for parking liquid-hydrogen tankers. The sides of the structure were open to provide adequate ventilation for the fuel trailers.

B-1 Floor Plan (JPG, 2.22MB)

Photograph of B-1 trailer storage area and shop structure
Trailers and Shop
Photograph of B-1 trailer storage area and shop structure
Trailers and Shop
Photograph of trailer area at base of B-1
Trailer Area
Test Section
Photograph of engineers examining nozzle in B-1 test section
B-1 Test Section
B-1 had several access levels in its tower. The stairwell, elevator shaft, and pipe chases ran up the western wall. The first partial level, at 55 feet, was rimmed by steel-grated platforms with the center area open for the exhaust pipe and diffuser. The enclosure of the test stand began at the 68-foot main test area. There was a grated floor along one side, but the center area had flooring that could be removed depending on the test setup. It was on this level that the engine and nozzle being tested were mounted with the turbopump above.
The level above the test section, at 84.75 feet, allowed access to the turbopump assembly. Near the center was the turbopump and propellant feed assembly linking the propellant tank on the level above and the engine on the level below. A catwalk provided access to the bottom of the 18-foot-long liquid hydrogen tank suspended above from the 98.25-foot level. A staircase connected the three levels.
A crane rail across the top of the test stand reached down to the test section. A venting system, vacuum lines, and tanking system were also at the top of the 117.5-foot tower. The vent exited the roof of the test stand. The liquid-hydrogen, gaseous-hydrogen, and liquid-nitrogen supply lines and the helium purge line ran down the length of the northwest side of the test stand.

B-1 Test Section (JPG, 2.10MB)

Photograph of a NERVA engine in B-1 test section
B-1 Test Section
Photograph of turbopump setup above the B-1 test section
Engine Setup
Diagram of NERVA setup in B-1
Turbopump Setup