Aerospace firm donates hypersonics tunnel to Purdue

Purdue University is adding a 150-foot hypersonic pulse shock tunnel—donated by Northrop Grumman Corp.—to its expanding research facilities for hypersonic flight. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

Aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman Corp. has donated a hypersonic pulse shock tunnel to Purdue University for use in flow physics, a gift that opens new opportunities in tests and evaluations to academia, industry and the government.

Purdue did not reveal the value of the 150-foot tunnel, which is being disassembled in Ronkonkoma, New York, to move to West Lafayette.

Once the tunnel is installed, Purdue will be only the second U.S. university to offer such hypersonics test capability.

“Purdue is continuing to invest in infrastructure to support hypersonics research and education, and will open the HYPULSE tunnel for collaboration with external organizations,” said Theresa Mayer, executive vice president for research and partnerships, in a statement. “This will allow researchers from across academia, industry and the government to access the unique test conditions enabled by HYPULSE for their most demanding aerothermodynamic experiments.”

The tunnel will allow flight simulations at speeds ranging from Mach 5 to as high as Mach 40. At Mach 9, a plane can travel from Washington, D.C., to California in just 15 minutes.

“At Northrop Grumman, we are committed to increasing STEM educational opportunities that engage, excite and educate students,” said John Hayes, the company’s director of propulsion systems and controls. “The HYPULSE tunnel will help students from across the country conduct in-depth research into the world of hypersonic applications.”

Purdue officials said collecting data at higher Mach numbers is critical to extending the understanding of flow physics, especially heat transfer and flight-control effectiveness.•

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