Southern Research has more than 20 years of experience in testing hypersonic vehicle materials and structures to support diverse industries including organizations within the Department of Defense, NASA, and prime contractors. Our experienced engineers have specialized expertise in designing customized tests of candidate materials and shapes to meet our clients’ specific research needs.

Ground Testing

Southern Research has more than 20 years of experience in testing hypersonic vehicle materials and structures to support diverse industries including organizations within the Department of Defense, NASA, and prime contractors. Our experienced engineers have specialized expertise in designing customized tests of candidate materials and shapes to meet our clients’ specific research needs.
We perform a comprehensive range of hypersonic vehicles ground testing to evaluate thermal and ablative responses of thermal protection systems (TPS) materials and hot structures. Our capabilities provide a turnkey service and include:

  • Program planning
  • Facility selection
  • Test method development
  • Custom test configuration and test model design
  • Thermal analysis
  • Specialized machining
  • Computer Aided Design (CAD)/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)
  • Precision metrology
  • Instrumentation
  • Model assembly and on-site test support
  • Post-test analysis
  • CFP – Computational Fluid Dynamics

Ground test evaluations of thermal protection materials are performed utilizing a variety of arc jet, wind tunnel, and other ground test facilities, including but not limited to the U.S. Air Force LHMEL Laser. Longstanding relationships with these facilities enable SR to handle coordination and all technical issues for our customers. In addition, our experience with successful model designs and instrumentation for a variety of test conditions ensures efficient use of these unique facilities as well as high-quality data and analyses to support TPS and hypersonic vehicle development.

In addition to real-time temperature, pressure, flow, flux, and enthalpy measurements, post-test analyses to characterize boundary conditions and to assess ablative and thermal performance of materials are also conducted. These analyses support development of material response models by providing benchmark data for Modeling and Simulation (M&S) and include the following:

  • Char structure evaluation
  • Mass loss
  • In-depth density profiles
  • Ablative surface topography, profilometry, and recession measurement
  • Surface and in-depth microstructure
  • Non-destructive characterization
  • Destructive material constitutive property testing at service temperatures
  • Specialized analysis of material responses as needed to support the application