NASA Ames Tours
We are pleased to offer 16 walking tours of NASA Ames on August 31, 2022.
All tours are open to foreign nationals from non-designated countries, however foreign nationals from designated countries (listed here) will not be eligible.
All non-US Persons (US Citizens or Permanent Residents) require an additional screening requirement before a visitor badge can be issued - please contact Valerie Escobar (email@example.com) to initiate the process.
US persons who DO NOT hold a NASA badge will need to complete a pre-approval visitor form here and return to Ames Visitor Registration via fax, encrypted email or hand delivery 24-48 hours before the tour. Please indicate your sponsor is Valerie Escobar (650-604-0186).
US persons who DO hold a NASA badge should submit a request via NAMs to request “ARC Physical Access”.
All Visitors will need to wear a masks while indoors at all Ames facilities. Group sizes will be limited to 10 people for each tour option on a first-come, first-served basis. Please do not sign up for more than one tour group.
If you have any questions on the tour offerings, or the visitor badging process please contact Valerie Escobar (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To sign up for one of the below tour options, please visit the registration page here.
Ballistic Range Complex
The Range Complex has a comprehensive suite of highly adaptable, world-class test hardware and a staff with extensive expertise garnered from a wide range of test experience. Together, they offer a unique set of testing possibilities for a wide variety of hypervelocity topics, including the aerodynamics and flow field characteristics of entry vehicles (either for Earth entry or other planetary atmospheres) and other hypersonic vehicles, meteor or asteroid impacts on a planet or moon surface, and micrometeoroid impacts on a spacecraft. The Ballistic Range Complex currently consists of three facilities: the Ames Vertical Gun Range (AVGR), the Hypervelocity Free Flight Aerodynamic Facility (HFFAF), and the Hypervelocity Free Flight Gun Development Facility (HFFGDF).
Arc Jet Complex
The Ames Arc Jet Complex has a rich heritage of over 55 years in Thermal Protection System (TPS) development for every NASA Space Transportation and Planetary program including Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer-Venus, Galileo, Mars Pathfinder, MER heatshield, Stardust, NASP, X-33, X-34, SHARP-B1 and B2, X-37 WLE TPS and most recently CEV/Orion heatshield development and Mars Science Laboratory TPS. Such a history has fostered the growth of extensive local expertise in the development and refinement of the arc jet facilities. The facilities of the Arc Jet Complex are used to simulate the aerothermodynamic heating that a spacecraft endures throughout hypersonic atmospheric entry, and to test candidate TPS materials and systems. The duration of such testing can range from a few seconds to more than an hour, and from one exposure to multiple exposures of the same sample.
Ames Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel
This wind tunnel complex was developed by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NASA's predecessor) to serve the emerging need for supersonic research and development following World War II. The three-testing-section configuration covers Mach number .03-3.5 and utilizes a single common drive and two compressors. The Ames Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel has contributed to the America's preeminence in the jet age both in commercial and military aviation testing models from the Douglas DC-8 to commercial transports that will be flying in the near future. These tests include cruise performance, lateral and longitudinal stability, structural loads, and aeroelastic and dynamic load measurements.
National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC)
NFAC is a unique facility primarily used for determining aerodynamic characteristics of large-scale and full-scale rotorcraft and powered-lift V/STOL aircraft, as well as testing of wind turbines, parachutes, trucks, and other non-traditional types of testing. The facility is composed of two large test sections and a common, six-fan drive system. The 40-by-80 foot wind tunnel circuit is capable of providing test velocities up to 300 knots. The 80-by-120 foot test section is the world's largest wind tunnel and is capable of testing a full size Boeing 737 at velocities up to 100 knots.
Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS)
The world’s largest motion flight simulator, the VMS moves within a ten-story tower at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. For a given simulation, the VMS motion platform uses one of five interchangeable cabs, which can be configured to recreate the cockpit of any aerospace vehicle – whether it exists today or is being designed for the future. Driven by powerful motors and a system of hydraulics, the VMS offers an unequaled range of motion in all six degrees of freedom – the six ways that an aircraft or spacecraft moves. These are forward/backward, up/down and left/right, plus movement like an airplane’s nose pitching up or down, swinging side to side, or its wings rolling up or down. The cab can move as much as 60 feet vertically and 40 feet horizontally as it simulates all phases of flight, including takeoff, cruise and landing. Designers and pilots of fighter jets, tilt-rotor aircraft, helicopters, the space shuttle, airships and more have had the chance to test out their respective vehicles for research before taking to the skies.
The NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division delivers a cohesive high-performance computing (HPC) environment to accelerate NASA missions and make revolutionary advances and discoveries. Our innovative HPC technologies and research results are used to tackle some of the toughest science and engineering challenges facing the agency today. At the heart of NAS’s exceptional capabilities are our people—the experts who research and develop the tools, methods, and software to support the vital supercomputing resources provided to multiple NASA mission organizations. In addition, we focus on four key technical areas that encompass development of software codes and tools to support NASA's real-world engineering applications and fundamental scientific advances.
Bio Sciences Lab
The principal mission of the Space Biosciences Research Branch is to advance space exploration by achieving new scientific discoveries and technological developments in the biological sciences. They perform the biological research and technology development necessary to tackle these challenges and enable NASA's long-term human exploration mission. In addition to designing and conducting ground and spaceflight experiments, They develop advanced research platforms for the International Space Station to enable the broader scientific community to conduct life science experiments in microgravity.
Examine how the unique environment of space affects living organisms.
Engineer specialized ground and flight research facilities to study life in space and altered gravity environments.
Develop advanced technologies to sustain life in space.
Explore how bioengineered organisms can enable human spaceflight by providing essential resources such as food, clean air and water, and biofuels.
Planetary Aeolian Laboratory (PAL)
The Planetary Aeolian Laboratory (PAL) is a unique facility used for conducting experiments and simulations of aeolian processes (windblown particles) under different planetary atmospheric environments, including Earth, Mars, and Venus. The PAL includes research appropriate for Mars at one of the world’s largest chambers for conducting experiments at low atmospheric pressure. In addition to aeolian research and the testing and calibration of spacecraft instruments, the facility is a valuable resource for scientists and engineers who require a large, low-pressure (5.5 mb) environment.
Electric Arc Shock Tube (EAST)
The Ames Electric Arc Shock Tube (EAST) Facility is the only shock tube in the U.S. capable of simulating shock-heated gas environments at very high enthalpies encountered by atmospheric entry vehicles. The facility generates conditions for measurements of spectrally resolved radiance and kinetics of shock-heated gases from the vacuum ultraviolet through mid-infrared. The operating envelope of EAST covers velocities from 1.3 to 46 km/s at pressures between 13.3 and 5.3E+05 Pa in a variety of planetary atmospheres. The radiation data aid validation of computational tools used for the design and analysis of hypervelocity vehicles. Most recently, the EAST facility has been used as the agency’s primary ground test facility for quantifying shock radiation for lunar return of the Orion crew vehicle at 8-12 km/s.
CUBE Sat Lab
TechEdSat is a series of collaborative projects and missions that pairs college and university students with NASA researchers to evaluate new technologies for use in small satellites, or CubeSats. Students do the hands-on work – designing, building, and testing CubeSat spacecraft systems and analyzing the results – for each flight mission, under mentorship of engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.