Aerodynamic Truck Design to be Honored at 25th National Space Symposium

March 12, 2009

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A more efficient truck cab design will be inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame April 2 at the 25th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

An aerodynamic fairing concept originally developed for spaceflight was modified by NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to reduce drag on large trucks to improve fuel efficiency and handling.

Large objects moving at high speeds 'push' huge quantities of air out of the way, creating high-pressure zones. When the compressed air tries to negotiate an abrupt turn at the back of the vehicle, it creates a low-pressure zone, resulting in significant aerodynamic "drag" and decreased fuel efficiency.

Aerospace Engineer Edwin J. Saltzman and his team of engineers at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center applied what they had learned studying this effect on space shuttle and aircraft designs to improving truck design. They found that rounding the vehicle's edges, placing a smooth fairing on its roof, and extending the sides back to the trailer could cut drag by more than 50 percent and increase highway fuel economy by more than 20 percent. The modifications they tested at Dryden have now been widely adopted around the world.

The Space Technology Hall of Fame was created in 1988 by the Space Foundation, in cooperation with NASA, to increase public awareness of the benefits resulting from space exploration programs and to encourage further innovation. To date, the Space Foundation has inducted 59 technologies as well as honoring the organizations and individuals who transformed space technology into commercial products that improve the quality of life for all humanity.

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