The growing Purdue Aerospace District at the edge of the Purdue University campus has been named home to the national Hypersonic Ground Test Center. The news comes a week after Indianapolis-based Rolls-Royce North America announced it would expand its testing operations at the district for the next generation of U.S. military aircraft. The test center, considered a first of its kind, will be administered by a new nonprofit consortium of national defense industry partners that includes Rolls-Royce as a founding member of the facility.
“Rolls-Royce has a unique history in high-speed propulsion, dating to the Concorde aircraft and 30 years of experience on hypersonic research with our Department of Defense customers through our LibertyWorks advanced technology unit in Indianapolis,” said Tom Bell, chairman and chief executive officer of Rolls-Royce North America. “We are keenly interested in the area of hypersonic propulsion and currently exploring development of advanced supersonic and high-Mach propulsion systems with our customers.”
Purdue says the new HGTC is separate from the Rolls-Royce expansion. Purdue University and Purdue Research Foundation will fund the construction of the HGTC.
“Building the Hypersonic Ground Test Center would not be possible without a recent multimillion-dollar investment to further expand facilities in the Purdue Aerospace District,” said Purdue Research Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Edelman. “That investment from Rolls-Royce, the university and PRF, along with support from the state, West Lafayette, Lafayette and Tippecanoe County, laid the foundation for creating the HGTC.”
This is not the only advancement in hypersonic research at Purdue. Two weeks ago, the university and the research foundation announced plans for the construction of the 65,000-squre-foot Hypersonic Applied Research Facility. That facility will house the only Mach 8 quiet wind tunnel in the world.
While Rolls-Royce is the first aerospace industry member of the consortium, other industry partners will be recruited. The HGTC will be a central shared utility that supports multiple test cells and laboratories.
“We need to do more than match our peer competitors, we need to leapfrog them quickly. This facility will help us make that happen,” said Mark Lewis, executive director of the Emerging Technology Institute, which focuses on tech critical to national defense. Lewis says multiple companies can undertake work simultaneously on site, while being ensured full protection of intellectual property and sensitive work.
These facilities will be available for long-term lease to allow guaranteed, timely access for contractors to conduct tests at their preferred schedule and duration.
We’ll have more on the new test center from Purdue in this afternoon’s INside Edge e-newsletter.