Sandia National Labs Academic Alliance Collaboration Report 2020-2021


A4H Team, Ken Patel, John Sullivan

than 6,000 mph. Purdue has one of the nation’s deepest hypersonic teams with nearly 40 world-renowned researchers with capabilities in navigation, aerodynamics, aerothermal effects, propulsion, autonomy, system engineering, high-temperature materials and manufacturing. Jonathan Poggie, a Purdue professor of aeronautics and astronautics, leads the hypersonics program. “The Mach 6 quiet wind tunnel was the seed that got things started. All around the university there are many leading experts interested in the field of hypersonics,” Poggie said. “We were able to put together a really great team because we have such talent and interest.” Sandia’s capabilities: Sandia has conducted hypersonic flight research for the last 40 years, including conducting the first successful flight test of a non-ballistic hypersonic glide vehicle in 1985. A memorandum signed by multiple DOD agencies established a Sandia-developed design as the common hypersonic glide body being further developed and produced by industry contractors. Since 2018, Sandia committed $40 million of its LDRD funds to explore autonomy and machine learning technology for hypersonic flight vehicles and has test capabilities in its own hypersonic wind tunnel. In addition, Sandia leads an academic research coalition focused on creating artificially intelligent aerospace systems by integrating expertise from throughout the country with its own knowledge in high-performance flight vehicles. “Sandia is continuing its legacy of excellence in the national interest by providing advanced technology to ensure the protection of our nation and its warfighters,” said Associate Labs Director Mike Burns, who oversees national security programs at Sandia. “I’m very proud of the contributions made by our team and thank the DOD and the NNSA for the opportunity to contribute to the national hypersonic systems team.”

Sandia’s Autonomy for Hypersonics (A4H) team leaders Jay Brown and Meg Davidson collaborated with Campus Partnership Manager Ken Patel and Purdue Professor John Sullivan to develop glider specifications/parameters and design reference missions (DRMs) for the AA451 senior design class. The DRMs mimic some of the challenges experienced when adapting autonomous systems technologies to hypersonic glide vehicles. The 60 graduating seniors were divided into eight teams and challenged to design, build, and fly hypersonic-like gliders. Sandia leaders including Dennis Helmich, Ed Cole, and Ben Cook stopped at the AA451 Senior Design Class poster session at the end of the last in-person fall semester to view the Sandia‑sponsored Capstone project work. In addition to the final poster session, there was also an on-campus flight demonstration.


2020-2021 Collaboration Report

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