Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Hypersonic Flight Test

SwRI has the ability to launch scaled tested articles at hypersonic velocities up to 7 km/s (Mach 20) using a large two-stage light gas gun. This is a unique facility for hypersonic flight experiments because it allows for tests to be conducted in a clean atmospheric environment. As no expansion nozzles are required to achieve hypersonic flight conditions, test articles achieve high enthalpy conditions without pressure, thermal or chemical perturbations of the ambient environment.

The SwRI two-stage light gas gun facility has an extended flight range, allowing for flight times of 1.5 to 8.5 milliseconds, depending upon the launch velocity and flight range configuration. The flight range may be atmospherically controlled to reproduce the pressure, temperature and gas composition. Atmospheric conditions equivalent to 30 km in altitude may be reproduced. The flight range has multiple viewports, allowing for advanced diagnostics to be deployed. This includes high-speed flash X-rays (up to 450 kV), high-speed video (up to 200 million frames per second, 5 nanosecond exposure), photonic Doppler velocimetry (PDV), emission and absorption spectroscopy and other laser diagnostics.  Multiple ports along the flight path allow for multiple measurement access points.  The flight range may be used to perform aerodynamic experiments, wake signature assessments, aerothermochemistry experiments, aeroheating measurements and terminal impact tests.



High speed photographs of a cylinder traveling at 5.5 km/s (Mach 16) in a reduced atmosphere equivalent to 21 km. The complex interaction of the shock heating, dissociation of the air, and ablation of the projectile result in self-illumination of the surrounding gas.


Hypersonic Research Services


Or call Nicholas Mueschke at +1 210 522 5128.