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The Superorbital Expansion Tube concept, experiment and analysis

  • A. J. Neely (a1) and R. G. Morgan (a1)


In response to the need for ground testing facilities for super orbital re-entry research, a small scale facility has been set up at the University of Queensland to demonstrate the Superorbital Expansion Tube concept. This unique device is a free piston driven, triple diaphragm, impulse shock facility which uses the enthalpy multiplication mechanism of the unsteady expansion process and the addition of a secondary shock driver to further heat the driver gas. The pilot facility has been operated to produce quasi-steady test flows in air with shock velocities in excess of 13 km/s and with a usable test flow duration of the order of 15 μs. An experimental condition produced in the facility with total enthalpy of 108 MJ/kg and a total pressure of 335 MPa is reported. A simple analytical flow model which accounts for non-ideal rupture of the light tertiary diaphragm and the resulting entropy increase in the test gas is discussed. It is shown that equilibrium calculations more accurately model the unsteady expansion process than calculations assuming frozen chemistry. This is because the high enthalpy flows produced in the facility can only be achieved if the chemical energy stored in the test flow during shock heating of the test gas is partially returned to the flow during the process of unsteady expansion. Measurements of heat transfer rates to a flat plate demonstrate the usability of the test flow for aerothermodynamic testing and comparison of these rates with empirical calculations confirms the usable accuracy of the flow model.



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The Superorbital Expansion Tube concept, experiment and analysis

  • A. J. Neely (a1) and R. G. Morgan (a1)


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