National Hypersonic Ground Test Facility to be Built

Test Center Image
The first-of-its-kind Hypersonic Ground Test Center to be constructed in the Purdue Aerospace District will allow industry partners to test their hypersonic technologies. (Credit: Second Bay Studios)

A first-of-its-kind in the U.S. facility to test hypersonic technologies will be constructed in the Purdue Aerospace District adjacent to the Purdue University campus. The Hypersonic Ground Test Center (HGTC) will be a central shared utility that supports multiple test cells and laboratories.

The announcement of the HGTC comes on the heels of two major recent announcements for plans in the Purdue Aerospace District. On July 27, the university and research foundation announced plans for the construction of a 65,000-squre-foot Hypersonic Applied Research Facility. That facility will house the only Mach 8 quiet wind tunnel in the world, as well as a hypersonic pulse (HYPULSE) shock tunnel. On Aug. 2, it was announced that Rolls-Royce will significantly expand its already large footprint at Purdue with new test facilities that will be used to develop high-altitude and hybrid-electric engines to power the next generation of U.S. military aircraft.

Mark J. Lewis, executive director of the Emerging Technology Institute, a nonpartisan think tank focused on technology critical to the future of national defense, said, “We need to do more than match our peer competitors, we need to leapfrog them quickly. This facility will help us make that happen.”

The HGTC will be administered by a new nonprofit consortium of national defense industry partners that will manage capital and operational costs. Rolls-Royce North America is the first aerospace industry member of the HGTC consortium. Other national industry partners and potential interested government entities are being recruited.

The HGTC facility will house two separate testing streams: partners can conduct tests in the 3.5-5.0 Mach range or the 4.5-7.5 Mach range. Multiple companies can undertake work simultaneously on site, while being ensured full protection of intellectual property and sensitive work. These facilities will be available for long-term lease to allow guaranteed, timely access for contractors to conduct tests at their preferred schedule and duration.

Tom Bell, chairman and CEO, Rolls-Royce North America, said, “Rolls-Royce has a unique history in high-speed propulsion, dating to the Concorde aircraft and 30 years of experience on hypersonics research with our Department of Defense customers through our LibertyWorks advanced technology unit in Indianapolis. We are keenly interested in the area of hypersonic propulsion and currently exploring development of advanced supersonic and high-Mach propulsion systems with our customers.”

U.S. Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, said, “The transformational technologies being developed and tested at Purdue will help America win the 21st century. Not only will these ideas create the jobs of tomorrow, they will ensure that the American military remains the strongest and most advanced fighting force in the world.”

Purdue University and Purdue Research Foundation will fund the construction of the HGTC.