IIT Kanpur tests India's first hypervelocity expansion tunnel test facility

The hypervelocity expansion tunnel test facility, S2, will be used for ongoing missions of ISRO and DRDO, including Gaganyaan.

The IIT Kanpur's hypervelocity expansion tunnel test facility has been indigenously designed and developed. (Image: Official)The IIT Kanpur's hypervelocity expansion tunnel test facility has been indigenously designed and developed. (Image: Official)

Divyansh | February 5, 2024 | 03:51 PM IST

NEW DELHI: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Kanpur) has established and tested the country’s first hypervelocity expansion tunnel test facility, S2. It will be capable of generating flight speeds between 3-10 km per second, simulating the hypersonic conditions encountered during atmospheric entry of vehicles, asteroid entry, scramjet flights, and ballistic missiles.

The test facility for ongoing missions of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) including Gaganyaan, reusable launch vehicles (RLV), and hypersonic cruise missiles.

The S2, nicknamed 'Jigarthanda', is a 24-meter-long facility located at Hypersonic Experimental Aerodynamics Laboratory (HEAL) at the department of aerospace engineering, IIT Kanpur. It has been indigenously designed and developed over a period of three years with funding and support from the Aeronautical Research and Development Board (ARDB), the department of science and technology (DST) and IIT Kanpur.

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IIT Kanpur director S Ganesh said, "The successful establishment of S2 marks a historic milestone for IIT Kanpur and for the country's scientific capabilities. I congratulate Sugarno and his team for their exemplary work in designing and fabricating the hypersonic research infrastructure. S2 will empower India's space and defence organisations with domestic hypersonic testing capabilities for critical projects and missions."

Mohammed Ibrahim Sugarno, associate professor, centre for lasers and photonics at IIT Kanpur said, "Building S2 has been extremely challenging, requiring in-depth knowledge of physics and precision engineering. The most crucial and challenging aspect was perfecting the 'free piston driver' system, which requires firing a piston at high pressure between 20-35 atmospheres down a 6.5 m compression tube at speeds of 150-200 m/s, and bringing it to a complete stop or 'soft landing' at the end.”

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