Shock tube facilities for Hypersonic Research

The ability to produce airflow at stagnation temperatures and pressures associated with hypersonic flight is vital in the design of a range of weapons, particularly for air strike and missile defence.

Our project focuses on upgrading two existing detonation tube facilities to shock tube standards with the aim of establishing a unique national infrastructure for hypersonic research.

Competitive advantage

  • Two complementary shock tube facilities (i.e. 30-metre long and 100-metre long tubes) allowing duplication of hypersonic conditions over the entire flight path, particularly the re-entry flight corridor for spacecraft weapon systems
  • The different sized tubes would enable the accurate determination of any scale-dependent flight characteristics
  • The two shock tube facilities have been fitted with an extensive array of high-resolution sensors and detection devices, as well as an ultra-fast data acquisition system for accurate measurements and recording of pressure, temperature and air speed over millisecond intervals

Successful applications of research

  • Enhanced national capacity in the field of hypersonic research, particularly in the design of hypersonic cruise and ballistic missiles and other similar systems
  • Establishment of a national facility to support joint projects with international partners in areas such as integrated
  • long-range air and missile defence, short-range in- theatre missile defence and hypersonic glide vehicles


  • NSW Government


  • The project will lead to the establishment of a state­ of-the-art multi-node facility for the investigation
  • of hypervelocity rarefied gas flows associated with hypersonic vehicles travelling through the upper atmosphere (below 90 kilometres) with speeds at least five times greater than the speed of sound

Capabilities and facilities

  • A six-metre long (five-centimetre diameter) shock tube
  • A $3 million state-of-the-art shock tube facility
  • (30-metres long and SO-centimetre diameter) based at the University of Newcastle's Callaghan campus
  • A $10 million state-of-the-art shock tube facility (100-metre long and SO-centimetre diameter) based at the Londonderry TestSafe Australia site

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.