National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

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B-3 Test Stand
Photograph of exterior of B-3 with infrastructure
B-3 Test Stand
B-3 was used to study tanking and flow systems for complete rocket systems at simulated altitudes. The rocket’s combustion chamber was pressurized to simulate an actual launch, but the engines were not fired. Researchers could study the effect of combustion chamber pressure on flow dynamics. B-3 was connected to the B-1 ejector system by a 54-inch diameter vacuum line. The B-1 steam-powered altitude exhaust system reduced B-3’s pressure at the exhaust nozzle exit to 0.5 pounds per square inch for up to 4 minutes. A smaller boiler building was added for the B-3 test stand, and a large liquid hydrogen tank and several smaller trailer facilities were used to supply the test stand with cryogenic fuel. The facility was tied into Plum Brook’s Station’s data acquisition system.

B-3 Facility Resume (PDF, 114KB)
At 210 feet in height, the 50- by 50-foot tower was the tallest structure at Plum Brook Station. The upper section, 32 by 27.5 feet in area, was enclosed above the 74-foot level. The test stand faced south and had removable corrugated metal walls on three sides and movable floors to assist the mounting in the test section. The entire north wall, which contained the stairwell, elevator shaft, and cable chases, was enclosed for the entire height of the test stand.
An overhang extended from the front of the tower. A 65-ton crane was installed at the 176-foot level to load the test articles inside. The double-girder crane spanned 28 feet and could travel outside the test stand to access the railroad line adjacent to the facility and reach the main test area at 74 feet. The main working levels of the test stand were accessible by a 3-ton elevator. The 110-foot-tall rolling doors, which vented excess hydrogen, were cited as the largest ever built.

B-3 Elevation Drawing (JPG, 2.75MB)

Photograph of test article being lifted into B-3
B-3 Stand
Photograph with several views of B-3 model
B-3 Model
Photograph of exterior of B-3
B-3 Site
Ground Floor
Photograph of the B-3 Shop Exterior
B-3 Shop Exterior
The first floor contained a shop area, mechanical equipment room, tool crib, manifold-purge control room, and instrumentation rooms. The shop and mechanical equipment room were adjacent to the east side of the test stand. The forward instrument room was adjacent to the north side of the test stand.
A little over half of the 50- by 50-foot square base was unenclosed. The 5-foot diameter altitude exhaust pipe entered this area along the ground from the west, and then ran upward through the test stand to the test section. The remainder of the base was an enclosed structure between the forward instrument room and shop area. The stairwell and elevator shaft were here as well.

B-3 Floor Plan (JPG, 829KB)

Photograph of base showing exhaust pipe and trailer
B-3 Base
Photograph of ground level of B-3
B-3 First Level
Photograph of test article lifted from B-3 base into test stand
Test Article
Test Section
Photograph of tank being lifted into B-3
Liquid-hydrogen Tank
The B-3 test stand had several access levels. The lowest was a balcony at the 42-foot level for accessing the electrical panels and cable chase. Like B-1, B-3 had three main enclosed working levels, at 73.5, 94.5, and 115.5 feet. The two lowest levels were identical in layout with removable steel plate flooring and an adjustable opening in the center. The 115.5-foot level had a 14.5- by 14.5-foot square opening in the center of the steel plate floor. The cable and pipe chases terminated at this level.
The B-3 test area began at the 74-foot level and extended to the crane bottom at 176 feet. There was a 24- by 36-foot open area inside the test stand. A 46,000-gallon tank stored the hydrogen above the test section. Access to the tank was provided by platforms at the 126- and 147-foot levels.


Photograph of workers on platform in B-3 above tank
Above Liquid-hydrogen Tank
Photograph of an engineer checking equipment in B-3 test section
Engineer at B-3
Photograph of a work platform in B-3
Work Platform