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CUBRC, Inc.’s President and CEO, Tom McMahon, announced today that CUBRC, a science and technology not-for-profit corporation located in Buffalo NY, will be participating in an Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) sponsored flight test experiment with Texas A&M University. The flight test experiment, BOLT II, fabricated and instrumented by the CUBRC Aerosciences team, will be flown on a large two-stage, suborbital sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The goal of the flight experiment is to collect scientific data to better understand boundary layer transition and turbulence – where BOLT gets its name – at hypersonic flight conditions. Hypersonic flight conditions are defined as traveling more than five times the speed of sound. Specifically, BOLT II is designed to provide one-of-a-kind flight data to better predict the capabilities of air and space vehicles to tolerate the extreme heating environments at hypersonic speeds.

Tim Wadhams, CUBRC’s Aerosciences Sector Vice President, emphasized the importance and impact of this program to CUBRC, stating, “This flight test really highlights all the strengths of the CUBRC Aerosciences team, from understanding and predicting the complex hypersonic flow physics, to designing and building a complex vehicle that can withstand the intense thermal loads of turbulent hypersonic flight, to instrumenting the vehicle with highly specialized sensors, to testing in our wind tunnels, and finally, most importantly, comparing our wind tunnel data to flight data.

Dr. Aaron Dufrene, CUBRC’s Aerosciences Sector Director of Facilities, and Program Manager for the BOLT II program, has been at the NASA Wallops site for the past week participating in the preparation of the vehicle for launch. Dr. Dufrene noted, “This is the first time a fully-instrumented flight test vehicle has been tested in a wind tunnel at flight conditions prior to flight, so the opportunity for ground test to actual flight comparisons is exciting. While we operate hypervelocity wind tunnels everyday, hypersonic test flights are rare, so understanding how the data compare is critical to understanding the physics more deeply and running better tests in the future to advance the state-of-the-art in high-speed flight.

The BOLT II flight experiment has been dedicated by the U.S. Air Force to the long-time Vice President of CUBRC Aerosciences Sector, Dr. Michael S. Holden, whose storied career in hypersonics research was focused on the advancement of the Nation’s capability to predict the very phenomena the BOLT II is designed to measure in flight. CUBRC’s Mr. Wadhams commented on this extremely rare honor, “Dr. Michael “Mike” Holden, known to the community of scientists and engineers who work in this area as “Mr. Hypersonics”, contributed 60+ years making monumental contributions to the field of hypersonics and high-speed flight. These important contributions will outlive us all. The measurement of boundary layer transition and turbulence was of key interest to Dr. Holden and the BOLT II flight and associated ground testing at CUBRC are exactly the kind of things he advocated for every day. The data collected in this program will allow significant advancement in the understanding of flow physics and heating phenomena in flight at hypersonic speeds.

The BOLT II flight experiment is currently scheduled to launch from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Monday the 21st of March at 7 pm Eastern standard time. The launch will be streamed on the NASA Wallops YouTube channel.