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AEDC H2 Arc Heater team validating new test capability

To meet development and testing needs for long-range strike and hypersonic vehicle materials, the H2 Arc Heater at Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) in Tennessee has been upgraded, with checkouts being performed recently to ensure the modifications were successful.

According to Harry Clark, AEDC senior engineer with the Strategic Plans and Test Facility Requirements, this project, known as the Mid-Pressure Arc Heater Prototype project (MPAH) has been a risk reduction effort that supports the Central Test and Evaluation Investment Program (CTEIP) project upgrading the H2 arc-jet test capability.

“The Test & Evaluation, Science & Technology branch of the Test Resource Management Center identified in 2014 the opportunity to ensure the success of the MPAH project by funding the installation of a segmented arc heater in H2 and demonstrating its performance envelope,” Clark said.

“The project was funded in 2015 and has nine test conditions that comprise the Key Performance Parameter for the risk reduction effort. Successful demonstration of the KPP is required before the CTEIP project can proceed to execution.”

The facility modifications necessary to install the segmented heater in H2 were designed by AEDC engineers in 2015 and the fabrication was accomplished in 2016. Checkout of H2 began in the autumn of last year, with the first KPP test condition demonstrated successfully in December. Two more KPP conditions were demonstrated before the end of 2016 and four of the remaining six were demonstrated in January 2017. As part of the upgrade, a state-of-the-art segmented heater is being placed in the H2 Arc Tunnel to replace the vintage Huels heater.

The upgrade is necessary as hypersonic flight places extreme demands on vehicle structures and materials. Survivability testing of thermal protection system materials and structures for hypersonic environments requires high-temperature air flow with gas temperatures between approximately 4,500°F and 17,500°F.

Arc heaters are able to meet this need by providing an efficient source for heating simulations, with realistic run times that are consistent with the time of many hypersonic flight missions.

Edited by Michael Jones

February 8, 2017


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