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Humans in Space

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ARC Jet Complex
Humans In Space

The ARC Jet Complex exists to create environments through the use of Arc Jet facilities for the testing of heat shield materials and thermal protection system components for planetary entry vehicles, planetary probes, or hypersonic flight vehicles under the aerothermodynamic heating conditions which they will encounter during flight operation.

The Ames Arc Jet Complex has nine available test bays located in two separate laboratory buildings. At the present time, three bays contain operative Arc Jet units of differing configurations that are serviced by common facility support equipment. This support equipment includes two DC power supplies, a steam ejector vacuum system, a de-ionized water cooling system, high pressure gas systems, a data acquisition system and other auxiliary systems. The magnitude and capacity of these support systems is a primary reason why the Ames Arc Jet Complex is unique in the aerospace testing world. In particular, the 60 MW power supply can deliver 75 MW for a 30 minute duration or 150 MW for a 15 second duration. This power capability in combination with the 5 stage steam ejector vacuum system enables facility operations that can simulate high altitude atmospheric flight on relatively large size test objects. The arc heater units themselves are of both the segmented (or constricted) design and the Huels type design. When combined with a variety of nozzles of both conical and semi elliptical cross sections, the resulting facility capabilities offer wide versatility for testing both large flat-surface test objects as well as stagnation flow models that are fully immersed in the test stream.