Engineers have developed the only operational wind tunnel in the world capable of running quietly at hypersonic speeds.

It is expected to help researchers design advanced aircraft and missiles.

No other wind tunnel runs quietly while conducting experiments in

airstreams traveling at Mach 6 — six times the speed of sound — said

aerospace engineer Steven Schneider, a professor at Purdue University.

Purdue engineers will present a paper about the wind tunnel on

Thursday, Jan. 12 during the American Institute of Aeronautics and

Astronautics’ Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit in Reno, Nev., Purdue University News Service reported.

The quiet operation is critical for recreating the smooth, or laminar, flow of air over the surfaces of aircraft, spacecraft or missiles re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

NASA had previously operated a wind tunnel capable of similar performance, but it is not currently in operation, the university said.

The wind tunnel was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and Boeing.

More here.