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AETC Hypersonic Facilities

Hypersonic model test in the 8-Foot High Temperature Tunnel at NASA Langley.
Hypersonic model test in the 8-Foot High Temperature Tunnel at NASA Langley.

Aerothermodynamics Laboratory
The Aerothermodynamics Laboratory at LaRC is a collection of three small, economical hypersonic tunnels used for basic fundamental flow physics research, aerodynamic performance measurements, and aero heating assessment. Many of the studies are aimed at screening, assessing, optimizing and benchmarking (when combined with computational fluid dynamics) advanced aerospace vehicle concepts. Collectively, these tunnels have contributed to many major hypersonic vehicle programs from the Apollo Space Program to the recent X-43A scramjet that flew at Mach 7 in March 2004 and Mach 9.6 in November 2004. These facilities also provide vital support to the development of NASA’s CEV.

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8-Foot High-Temperature Tunnel
This combustion-heated, blow-down-to-atmosphere tunnel at LaRC duplicates flight enthalpies at hypersonic conditions Mach 4 to 7 and accommodates large air-breathing propulsion systems and Thermal Protection System components. Tests of note include a Pratt & Whitney and U.S. Air Force test on the Ground Demonstrator Engine No. 2 (GDE-2) to better understand how test conditions influence the internal/external profile shapes of the engine and to document in detail any changes to its form. This landmark test also successfully demonstrated for the first time the use of a closed-loop hydrocarbon-fueled scramjet propulsion system at hypersonic conditions.

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AETC Ground Facilities



Last Updated
Nov 08, 2023
Lillian Gipson