SCALED truck-based "wind tunnel"
Conforming to Rutan's typical non-conformism, Scaled wind-tested SpaceShipOne's tail unit... in the open!

Truck tunnel operation supervised by aerodynamist Jim Tighe.


Type: truck-based aerodynamics testing device



Significant date: circa 2003

The truck-based wind tunnel was built by Scaled Composites to develop tail modifications for SpaceShipOne. To attack SpaceShipOne's handling concerns, a bit of high-speed road rage was used. Putting high-tech computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis of their design aside, SpaceShipOne handlers decided to "road test" the craft's boom-tail. Using a bit of creative Ford driving (CFD), a modified Ford-250 pickup truck tested various changes to SpaceShipOne's tail section. Putting pedal to the metal, the truck accelerated to high speeds to carry out full-scale "wind tunnel" evaluation of the tail assembly. These tests enabled Scaled Composites experts to study several modifications to SpaceShipOne's tail section meant to counter aerodynamic problems uncovered in the prior drop test last September.

Several days of ground testing validated aerodynamic fixes meant to solve the tail stall problem. The fixes were first flown on the October 17 drop test of SpaceShipOne. After release from the White Knight carrier plane at 46,200 feet, pilot Mike Melvill checked out the vehicle's handling qualities. The Scaled Composites team reported "considerable improvement" of SpaceShipOne's flying attributes, with no vehicle pitch up noted. Real time video from the craft to mission control was used to study aerodynamic improvements to the craft's tail section.

Population: 1

Main sources:
- Scaled Composites' TierOne photo gallery
- SEDS students TierOne gallery

Students from the SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space) working on tooling for the elevon.