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Hypersonic Tunnel Facility

The Hypersonic Tunnel Facility (HTF) at NASA’s Plum Brook Station located in Sandusky, OH, originally designed to test nuclear thermal rocket nozzles, is a hypersonic (Mach 5, 6, and 7) blowdown, nonvitiated freejet facility that tests large-scale hypersonic air-breathing propulsion systems.

Facility Overview

Hypersonic Tunnel Facility
Direct connect configuration of the interior of the Hypersonic Tunnel Facility (HTF).

Designed to conduct research, development, and acceptance testing of hypersonic airbreathing propulsion systems, the Hypersonic Tunnel Facility (HTF) is a fully self-contained facility. Its experimental infrastructure includes a shop area for fabrication of materials for facility subsystems and assembly of customer hardware. Due to the high-energy nature of the facility, it is operated remotely from a control room approximately one-quarter mile from the actual facility.

The HTF is a blow-down, non-vitiated, free jet wind tunnel that is capable of simulating Mach 5, Mach 6, and Mach 7 true enthalpy conditions. The primary performance differentiator between the HTF and other hypersonic free jet facilities is its non-vitiated (clean) flow. Whereas traditional facilities of this type utilize a combustion process to generate high enthalpy conditions required to simulate hypersonic flows, the HTF generates these conditions by flowing nitrogen gas through a 3 MW graphite core storage heater. This heated nitrogen is then mixed with ambient temperature oxygen and ambient temperature nitrogen to yield a flow of synthetic (true composition) air at the requisite stagnation temperature. Three interchangeable nozzles are used

Hypersonic Tunnel Facility
Direct connect configuration of the interior of the Hypersonic Tunnel Facility (HTF).

to establish the facility Mach number condition of 5, 6, and 7. A nominal free jet test section ‘characteristic dimension’ is the nozzle exit diameter, 42 inches for the HTF. However, the hypersonic core flow varies with Mach number. The test section length can be adjusted from 10 feet to 14 feet in length. Utilization of aeroappliances around test hardware is standard practice. A single stage steam ejector is used to exhaust the facility flow and provide altitude simulation.

The facility’s size and long run duration allow for full systems testing of large flight rated structures and propulsion systems. The facility is capable of supporting both hydrogen and hydrocarbon fueled propulsion systems. In addition to free jet testing, the use of the facility to support direct connect subsonic and supersonic combustion is currently being developed. This capability would allow for the testing of large scale combustors in a non-vitiated flow.

Quick Facts

Name Hypersonic Tunnel Facility
Mach Number 5.0 – 7.0
Test Section 10 ft length available, expandable to 14 ft
Altitude Up to 120,000 ft
Total Pressure 1200 psig maximum
Total Temperature 4500°R maximum

Capabilities

Operational Features

Propellant Systems

Control Systems

HTF Run Conditions, Nozzle
Nozzle Mach 5 Mach 6 Mach 7
Stagnation Pressure, psia 410.0

70.5

1200.0

144.0

1200.0

430.0

Stagnation Temperature, R 2200

2420

2965

3310

3830

4500

Mass Flow, lbs/sec 189.0

30.9

222.0

25.4

104.0

36.2

Throat Diameter, in. 7.2

7.2

4.9

4.9

3.2

3.2

ExitDiameter, in. 42.0

42.0

42.0

42.0

42.0

42.0

HTF Run Conditions, Test Section
Test Section Mach 5 Mach 6 Mach 7
Static
Pressure, psia
0.74

0.118

0.61

0.071

0.33

0.071

Static
Temperature, R
384

428

390

451

412

451

Altitude, ft 68,000

108,000

72,000

120,000

93,000

120,000

Run Time, sec 103a

294b

42a

294b

90a

180c

a – Limited by maximum stagnation temperature change of 200»F

b – Limited by steam availability at 150 psig

c – Limited by mixture and diffuser temperature limits

Contact

Hypersonic Tunnel Facility (HTF)
Facility Manager: Gerald Hill
6100 Columbus Ave., MS PB
Sandusky, OH 44870
419-621-3235
Gerald.M.Hill@nasa.gov

Plum Brook Station
Deputy Director: David Taylor
6100 Columbus Ave., MS PB
Sandusky, OH 44870
419-621-2101
David.E.Taylor@nasa.gov

If you are unsure about whom to contact about a specific facility question, please call our main number at 216-433-4000.

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