Calspan has been working with the High-Speed System Test technology area, based at AEDC (Arnold Engineering Development Complex), to develop and demonstrate the first clean air, true enthalpy hypersonic test facility capable of varying simulated flight conditions up to Mach 7.5 for aeropropulsion, aerothermal and aero-optics testing. The clean air test environment is produced by a Regenerative Storage Heater (RSH) and is more representative of true flight conditions. The HAPCAT (Hypersonic Aero thermal and Propulsion Clean Air Testbed) project when completed will satisfy the following key requirements:

  • Demonstrate the technology that provides a clean air, true enthalpy, hypersonic test environment.
  • Provide residual use as a fully functioning hypersonic test facility.

HAPCAT is installed at Northrop Grumman’s test laboratory in Ronkonkoma, New York. Once demonstrated, the technologies proven in the HAPCAT facility could be incorporated into other or larger scale hypersonic test facilities.

Early this spring Calspan reached a few HAPCAT milestones worth noting:

  • The first hot tests were conducted using Calspan’s control system. Data was gathered at different operating points and control of two flow streams was demonstrated.
  • The investigation into additive manufacturing techniques for a variable Mach number nozzle to be installed in the HAPCAT facility. 
  • The PDR (preliminary design review) was completed for a mass-capture laser measurement system. This enhanced capability is an advanced non-invasive laser measurement technique.

Regenerative Storage Heater - a component of Hypersonic Aero Propulsion Clean Air Testbed (HAPCAT)

HAPCAT is just one of the technology development platforms that is developing technologies to be used in the large-scale hypersonic upgrade to the existing AEDC J-5 facility (nicknamed project Phoenix). Calspan is also working on several other facets of the Phoenix project which will be announced in the future. Validation of these sub-scale technologies will reduce the full-scale test facility risk.


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