AME researchers have received a collective $10 million in funding – $3.5 million from the state of Arizona's investment in the New Economy Initiative and $6.5 million in federal support through the Department of Defense's Test Resource Management Center – to upgrade hypersonic facilities and related research infrastructure. The funding positions the university as a leading educational institution in the hypersonics field, said AME assistant professor Alex Craig.
"We're moving our wind tunnel complex into a more capable realm that you typically don't see at universities, because it's usually reserved for government facilities like NASA," Craig said. "With these upgrades, we'll be able to provide impactful ground testing services to DOD and its contractors, NASA, and emerging private ventures supporting space and commercial travel, while still fulfilling our educational mission."
The Boundary-Layer Stability and Transition Laboratory, led by Craig, houses a 15-inch-diameter Mach 5 Ludwieg tube, also known as LT5. The Turbulence and Flow Control Laboratory is led by AME professor Jesse Little. Its newest addition is the Arizona Supersonic Wind Tunnel, which currently operates at speeds ranging from Mach 1.75 to Mach 4. The Mach number is changed by adding different nozzle blocks – 12 in total – which weigh about 1,800 pounds each.
The funding will support a suite of upgrades for both UA hypersonics facilities.
"The University of Arizona is a leader in hypersonics, and this new investment in our unique facilities will allow us to take this exciting research to new level," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "We are grateful for the support of this program from the Arizona Board of Regents, Gov. Doug Ducey and the state legislature, and the funding from the federal government will amplify the impact of Arizona's investment in this important area of research."