NIAR receives $10 million NASA funding for high-temp advanced materials

Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) will receive more than $10 million from NASA for research related to the development and implementation of advanced materials for hypersonic applications.

The funding will enable continued research aimed at developing and maturing high temperature advanced materials for use in hot structures and thermal protection systems for hypersonic vehicles.

Development of advanced materials and structures that meet these requirements is a key driver in advancing the hypersonic systems industry. There are currently several technological gaps for novel high-speed materials and structures, including the selection of materials that are capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and extended flight times, as well as the development of reliable design databases.

The ability to generate high fidelity data for these materials is a crucial step in the process of successfully inserting emerging materials into critical space applications. These materials must be proven to perform in extremely challenging environments, while demonstrating manufacturability, consistent production, and long-term sustainment.

This highly specialized research program will require procurement of equipment focused on automated fabrication, processing and densification, characterization, design and analysis, and testing refractory materials and structures. It will complement existing resources available through Wichita’s National Defense Prototype Center (NDPC), a collaboration between NIAR and Spirit AeroSystems.

The NDPC provides a secure space for high-temperature materials testing, development, prototyping and industrialization.

“Our collaboration with NASA Aeronautics will continue to advance through the Hypersonics Technology Project, focusing on sustaining hypersonic competency for national needs while advancing applied hypersonic research,” said John Tomblin, WSU senior vice president for Industry and Defense Programs and NIAR executive director. “We are fortunate to have the unwavering support of Senator Moran to expand this collaboration with NASA and key representatives in the industry.”

Senator Jerry Moran, a member of the Appropriations Committee, requested the program funding from NASA on behalf of Wichita State.

“The National Institute for Aviation Research plays an important role in the advancement of hypersonic capabilities,” said Moran, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. “Over the past several years, I have been working to grow NASA’s footprint in Kansas, including hosting the NASA Administrator and several NASA leaders in Wichita. I worked to secure these resources from NASA to continue to build on this work and bring more exciting space and aerospace jobs and opportunities to our state.”

About Wichita State University

Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling more than 23,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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About the National Institute for Aviation Research

The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University provides research, design, testing, certification and training to the aviation, defense, manufacturing and related industries. NIAR has a $350 million annual budget, a staff of 1,200 and nearly two million square feet of laboratory and office space in six locations across the city of Wichita, the Air Capital of the World. Areas of expertise include Additive & Advanced Manufacturing; Advanced Coatings; Aerodynamics; Ballistics and Crash Dynamics; Composites and Advanced Materials; Digital Twin; Environmental and Electromagnetic Test; eXtended Reality; Flight Simulation; Full-Scale Structural Test; Non-Destructive Test; Sustainment; Reverse Engineering; Robotics/Automation and Virtual Engineering. NIAR is a department within the division of Industry and Defense Programs at Wichita State. 

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