Aeropropulsion and Power Testing

Aeropropulsion and Power Testing  

Northrop Grumman operates a world-class research facility that serves the aerospace and power-generation industries. The complex features nine test stands that can be configured as needed to acquire critical data. State-of-the-art data-acquisition systems are available for projects ranging from fundamental emissions studies to hypervelocity engine tests.

The facility is capable of combustion test studies that allow investigation of fuel performance and design enhancements, as well as material structural demonstrations of components. The complex is unique in that it can provide simulation of stationary gas turbine processes while also spanning simulated flight Mach number range from 0 to 30.

Control and acquisition

Northrop Grumman's control room features more than 15 LCD displays and four plasma televisions, providing real-time data and video presentation. An ethernet-based control scheme allows the flexibility to adapt to new program requirements and handle future upgrades gracefully. Increased redundancy in critical systems also was accomplished during renovation.

Gas-turbine combustor development facility

The Combustor Development Facility was originally conceived to study reduction of nitrous-oxide generation. Industrial gas-turbine designers have strived to reduce NOx emissions to ever decreasing limits. Emissions data on combustor designs has been vital in allowing engineers to fine tune the combustion process, resulting in optimized gas turbine performance. This facility also has been used to study the benefits of fuel additives and other system enhancements.

Jet-engine component test facility

The Component Test Facility exposes jet-engine components to actual operating conditions up to altitudes of 50,000 feet. A jet-fueled air heater provides the requisite test media, and a back-pressure control system permits pressurization from about 2 psia to about 100 psia. Most development programs conducted in this facility have been focused on augmenter flame-holding and ignition/piloting characteristics.

Hypersonic engine and component test complex

The Hypersonic Test Complex is made up of six primary test stands. These stands rely on high-pressure gas supplies and a 48-foot vacuum sphere to provide test durations from 30 seconds up to 30 minutes, depending on test conditions and/or model structural limitations. This facility also is capable of testing rocket engines. Northrop Grumman also operates the government-owned HyPulse shock tunnel, which was originally constructed for the Apollo Space Program and is capable of testing up to Mach 30.

Flight testing

Northrop Grumman has extensive experience developing cutting-edge hypersonic flight test programs for NASA, DARPA, and the Air Force. Besides developing the engine and design for the world-record-holding X-43A Scramjet vehicle, Northrop Grumman has supported NASA's HyShot, HyBolt, HiFire and Hy-V programs.

In addition, Northrop Grumman functioned as principle contractor and team lead for the development of the Freeflight Atmospheric Scramjet Test Technique. This program continued the development of Northrop Grumman's expertise in design, analysis, fabrication and systems integration, growing the company into the mission management role. Along the way, Northrop Grumman developed a strong core of trusted and proven subcontractors. Together, this team developed and demonstrated a reliable and low-cost flight-test technique for scramjet design validation.

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