Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI acquires light-gas gun facility for hypervelocity research

October 26, 2012 — Southwest Research Institute recently acquired one of the largest impact testing and research facilities in the world, located in Leander, Texas, northwest of Austin.

SwRI acquired the Impact Dynamics Laboratory from the U.S. Army. The University of Texas at Austin operated the facility for the Army as a University Affiliated Research Center. Agreements between SwRI, the Army and UT-Austin resulted in the transfer of the facility. SwRI also acquired five staff members.

The centerpiece of the 15,000-square-foot SwRI Impact Dynamics Laboratory is a two-stage light-gas launcher featuring a 38-mm launch tube with the ability to achieve velocities close to 7 kilometers per second. In addition to the launcher, the facility also houses machinery and tooling to manufacture complex and precision components and assemblies.

"We are excited to add this facility to our program," said Dr. Charles E. Anderson, director of SwRI's Engineering Dynamics Department. "The launcher, along with the other equipment this facility houses, complements our test facilities, laboratories and equipment at SwRI's headquarters in San Antonio."

For more than 40 years, SwRI has been involved in impact dynamics research and evaluation, conducting a variety of projects for the U.S. military, defense industry, NASA and other U.S. government and allied entities.

"The Impact Dynamics Laboratory in Leander was labeled an 'essential research capability' by the director, Defense Research and Engineering, the Pentagon," Anderson added. "We intend to use this facility to conduct basic and applied research to help maintain our national technological edge."

For more information about the Engineering Dynamics Department at Southwest Research Institute and the Impact Dynamics Laboratory, contact SwRI Solutions or visit