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Hypervelocity Impact Testing

Flash radiography and impact crater

Testing and Analysis at Hypersonic Speeds

UDRI's hypervelocity impact facility has 2 two-stage light-gas gun ranges for hypervelocity testing at velocities up to 24,600 ft/sec (7.5 km/sec). Applications for this facility include design and evaluation of orbital debris shielding, lethality/survivability for theater missile defense systems, and characterization of Kinetic Energy penetrator performance. The larger two-stage, light-gas gun can be configured into a 75/30/7.62 mm three stage, light-gas gun that has launched spherical projectiles to over 10 km/sec for micro-meteoroid/orbital debris impact testing.

Different projectile shapes can be launched for hypervelocity impact studies including spheres, discs, rods, cubes, and others. Spheres ranging from 1 mm to 19 mm with impact velocities up to 10 km/sec are used to simulate orbital debris threats to spacecraft structures. Typical projectiles for lower velocity impacts below 3 km/sec include long rod penetrators, and segmented and extensible rod penetrators for armor/anti-armor testing.


  • 50/20mm and 75/30mm two-stage, light gas guns (up to 7.5km/sec)
  • World's fastest three-stage, light-gas gun (over 10 km/s)
  • High-speed data acquisition up to 25 mhz
  • Interior ballistics diagnosis
  • Test samples under stress
  • Instrumented test samples (strain, accelerometers, load cells)

Typical Projects

  • Spacecraft shield testing for Micrometeoroid/Orbital Debris MMOD threats
  • Determination of Thermal Projection Systems (TPS) impact capability
  • Ballistic Limit Equation (BLE) validation
  • Debris cloud formation
  • KE penetrator performance
  • Insensitive munitions testing

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Top: Multiple Sequence Flash radiograph of a debris cloud produced by a spherical aluminum projectile impacting a thin aluminum shield at 7 km/sec (left); 1.05-inch diameter by 0.44-inch deep crater formed by the impact of a 0.312-inch diameter nylon disc weighing 0.25g (right)

The Gun that Saves Lives

Pictured below are UDRI's two-stage light-gas gun ranges for hypervelocity testing. The larger two-stage, light-gas gun can be configured into a 75/30/7.62 mm three stage, light-gas gun (the world's fastest) that can launch spherical projectiles to over 10 km/sec.

Hypervelocity gas gun ranges at UDRI's Impact Physics Lab


University of Dayton Research Institute

300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0101