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A&M RELLIS Campus to hold the nation’s largest enclosed hypersonic test range

Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (Facebook)
Posted at 4:32 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 17:32:20-04

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, TX — On May 20, the A&M Board of Regents approved to appropriate $13.1 million for infrastructure improvements on the west side of the RELLIS campus.

These improvements will undergird two testing ranges for next-generation technology, the Innovation Proving Ground (IPG) and the Ballistic, Aero-optics, and Materials (BAM).

At one kilometer long and 2.5 meters in diameter, BAM will be the nation’s largest enclosed hypersonic test range. Bridging a critical gap in U.S. research capacity between lab-scale experiments and open-range tests, the likes of which can cost tens of millions of dollars per test.

This high-quality infrastructure is part of the shared goal by the Texas A&M University System and the U.S. Army: to build a world-class ecosystem for military technology innovation on the RELLIS Campus.

It’s called the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex (BCDC).

The infrastructure package includes basic improvements like water, sewers, and electrical power, to areas around the runways of the former Army and Air Force base.

It also includes fiber cabling to fully support 5th generation (5G) Internet capabilities.

“5G is a really important to our partners and potential partners,” said Ross Guieb, a retired Army Colonel serving as BCDC executive director in a news release. “The intel community, DOD, and defense industry leaders are all watching closely with interest and excitement.”

Army commanders and other U.S. military leaders eagerly await the completion of the BCDC over the next several years.

The $200 million complex is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Army Futures Command and The Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, and the State of Texas.

The BCDC includes the IPG, the BAM, and other facilities that will bring together researchers from U.S. universities, the military, and the private sector for collaboration, demonstrations, and high-tech testing of military prototypes.

Regents Thursday also approved three amendments to enhance BAM’s instrumentation for research and testing.

BAM will host enclosed testing of hypersonic vehicles, directed energy beams, and the impact that hypersonic blasts have on various materials.

The changes improve the tube’s rail guidance system, add blast target tanks, and a soft catch assembly that will safely recover flown objects for post-flight analysis and data collection.

The combined cost of the changes is $3.5 million, bringing the total estimated cost to about $42.5 million.