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NASA Langley Research Center Constructing New Wind Tunnel

HAMPTON—In early September, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) awarded a $43.2 million design/build contract to BL Harbert International, LLC from Birmingham, Alabama, for a new Flight Dynamics Research Facility (FDRF) at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton. BL Harbert International will provide unique design and construction services for a 16,000 gross square foot vertical wind tunnel—the most capable research tunnel of its kind in the world.

The new vertical wind tunnel facility will consolidate and replace two aging wind tunnel facilities at Langley, reduce NASA’s footprint, provide state-of-the-art aeronautical research capabilities, and improve long-term energy efficiency, sustainability, and performance. This FDRF is critical for the success of NASA’s missions in aeronautics research pertaining to aviation safety, aircraft stability and control, and Earth entry vehicle dynamics among others.

“The award of the Flight Dynamics Research Facility contract is a major accomplishment for NASA that has been years in the making,” said Allen Kilgore, Research Director at NASA Langley Research Center. “This facility will be the first major wind tunnel built by NASA in more than 40 years, will provide a state-of-the-art tool with greater capabilities, and lower operating costs than the two tunnels it is replacing. This new Flight Dynamics Research Facility provides NASA with advanced capabilities for conducting research for aeronautic, space exploration, and science missions ensuring our success and supporting our nation for decades in the future.”

During this project, the team will be tracking silver certifications through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program and SITES, a sustainable landscape design and development program. Jacobs Technology, Inc. is providing construction management services for this project.

GSA will deliver this fourth new building through a partnership with NASA and in support of their 20-year revitalization plan at Langley Research Center. Their plan includes building new sustainable and state-of-the-art facilities, renovation of critical infrastructure, and demolition of non-essential assets. The goals include reducing the center’s footprint; incorporating a pedestrian-friendly environment similar to a college campus; and transforming the remaining infrastructure as energy efficient, sustainable, and adaptable to changing NASA mission and societal needs.

The FDRF project is estimated to reach substantial completion in late 2024.

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