The Hypersonics Group is a rapidly growing research group which has Australia’s only long duration hypersonic test facility. The ‘TUSQ’ Ludwieg tube is the core around which the group has been developed. The group is based at the UniSQ Toowoomba campus. Major activities include facility development, optical diagnostics, hypersonic inlet investiga-tions, supersonic combustion, hypersonic fluid-structure interaction, and field measurementsof rockets and hypersonic craft re-entering the atmosphere. Our innovative approaches to experimentation in hypersonics are world-leading and have attracted international sponsored research projects. We are the only civilian group outside of NASA who has a demonstrated track record of undertaking airborne observation missions to measure hypervelocity phenomena, having recently observed the Hayabusa2 capsule re-entry and the Tau Herculids meteor shower. The Hypersonics Group is an integral part of Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) Hub which was awarded under the Australian Universities Trailblazer program.
Two PhD projects are available to develop unique experimental payloads for testing on hypersonic rocket systems. Both topics will proceed through a combination of engineering analysis, modelling, computational simulation and laboratory work leading to ground-based experiments in the University’s hypersonic wind tunnel, ‘TUSQ’ in order to verify the suitability of the experimental payloads for flight testing. Under the Trailblazer project, it is also expected that there will be opportunities for actual flight testing of payloads that have been developed in each PhD project. Both topics will be supported by the iLAuNCH Hub and work will include close collaboration with local industry and international research partners.
Topic 1 will investigate the management of hypersonic boundary layer transition through the suppression and augmentation of naturally arising instabilities. The state of the boundary layer – whether it is laminar or turbulent – has a profound effect on the performance of hypersonic vehicles and each state holds benefits depending on the particular application. Extension of current capabilities for measurement of small-magnitude high-frequency fluctuations in boundary layers through surface pressure and heat flux is required, and integrating these measurements with novel suppression and augmentation devices that can be tested in both the ground-based facility (the wind tunnel) and during flight forms a core activity of the project.
Topic 2 will investigate modes of subsonic and supersonic combustion within a small, free-flying ramjet designed to operate between Mach 3 and Mach 5. Rotating detonation waves may offer combustion efficiency for ramjets operating at such speeds, but other modes of combustion may also be present, particularly during acceleration or deceleration phases, depending on the engine fuelling and mixing efficiency. Development a suitable fixed-geometry engine for operating within these speed limits, plus the development of viable strategies for engine management during speed and altitude changes is a key element of this project.