The Aerophysics Research Center (ARC) of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is located in Building 6230 Anderson Road, Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. The facility got its start through donation of the Delco Systems hypervelocity range facility assets to UAH by General Motors Corporation after closure of operations at Santa Barbara in June 1988. Disassembly and transportation of range equipment from Santa Barbara to Redstone Arsenal was completed in the fall of 1990. Construction of all phases of the Aerophysics Research Center building, funded by UAH, was completed in February 1991. Proof firings of the large (254 mm pump tube system) and intermediate (133 mm pump tube system) launchers were completed in June of 1991. Funded test programs commenced in February of 1992 starting with support from an Army program office, followed by experiments in kinetic energy impact damage assessment for theater missile defense applications. The building and its fixtures were purchased by the US Army in late FY 96. The facility continues to be operated by UAH.
Prior to its relocation in Huntsville, the hypervelocity range facility had been extensively developed, starting with a two stage light gas gun (90 mm diameter pump tube system) in 1961, the addition of the large 254 mm pump tube gun system in 1965 and the intermediate (133 mm pump tube system) gun in 1984. The original 90 mm system was scrapped at the time of range closure in 1988 and replaced by an improved 108 mm system developed at Delco but which has been completed and operated in UAH.
The instrumentation and auxiliary equipment to operate and validate performance of the gun systems were re-activated prior to the proof firings in June 1991. These included the vacuum systems, the preflight shadowgraphs, muzzle and impact chamber X-rays. The re-activation and checkout of the re-entry signatures instrumentation located down-range of the impact chamber of the large gun system was completed in August 1992. The entire data acquisition and processing system, which includes high speed analog-to-digital recorders was checked out with a test firing of spheres launched at 5 km/s.
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