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Sandia National Laboratories' Large Centrifuge Facility is a state-of-the-art facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This facility was developed to simulate loads on weapons components and systems by missile atmospheric reentry and jet aircraft acceleration.
Engineers at this facility perform functional and structural testing on both indoor and outdoor centrifuges by subjecting items to inertial forces as high as 300 g's.
This facility offers a full range of centrifuge testing capabilities for items up to 16,000 pounds, including classified, hazardous items as well as explosives. Tests may be conducted under extreme temperatures if needed.

Instrumentation and Communications

The Large Centrifuge Facility has exceptional data collection and communication capabilities.  Each centrifuge has a 20 cubic foot instrumentation panel at the center of rotation with 140 channels of slip rings.  Signals may be recorded on-board or passed through a variety of slip rings including high current copper, high bandwidth copper, fiber optic or wireless. A large variety of data collection systems are available including but not limited to a 90 channel mobile instrumentation unit, three 16 channel portable systems or high speed digital cameras.  The combination of ingenuity, experience, and equipment distinguishes this testing facility from others. Its capabilities can meet a wide variety of customer needs from a single load test to a long series of highly instrumented hardware performance tests.


Indoor Centrifuge

The 29-foot-radius indoor centrifuge has a load capacity of 1.6 million g-pounds, making it one of the largest in the United States.
This centrifuge is housed in an underground room that is 80 feet in diameter and 12 feet high, allowing a relatively clean and temperature-controlled environment.

It can accelerate a maximum payload of 16,000 pounds to 100 g's, or lighter loads to 300 g's. The maximum rotational speed of the centrifuge is 175 RPM.
Typical payloads for the indoor centrifuge include

  • Satellite components
  • Reentry vehicles
  • Geotechnical loads
  • Rocket components
  • Sensing devices
  • Weapon components

Outdoor Centrifuge

The 35-foot-radius outdoor centrifuge has a dynamic capacity of 450,000 g-pounds and is used primarily for hazardous test items. The outdoor centrifuge can explosively release test units for impact studies. It can accelerate a maximum payload of 10,000 pounds to 45 g's or a 1,700-pound payload to 270 g's. The maximum rotational speed of the centrifuge is 150 RPM.
Typical payloads for the outdoor centrifuge include

  • Explosive payloads
  • Oversized items
  • Items to be released for impact testing
  • Rocket motors for ignition testing



To more closely simulate real flight environments an innovative approach was developed at Sandia's large centrifuge complex to add controlled vibration to test units under inertial loading. This “Vibrafuge” capability has been proven to deliver combined environment testing at 100g with up to15 grms vibration between 50 and 2,000 Hz for payloads up to 400 lbs. This new test capability has consistently demonstrated important synergistic effects from the more realistic combined environments and provides the ability to determine margin assessment of system performance.
Further advancement of flight simulation has been made through the development of a “Superfuge” system capable of combining controlled acceleration, vibration and secondary axis spin for payloads up to 50 lbs.

Additional Information

The Large Centrifuge Facility is close to Sandia's other testing sites and maintains a variety of data/instrumentation equipment. For shipping and travel purposes, the sites are conveniently located near Albuquerque International Airport and two interstate highways. Sandia can perform the complete tests from theoretical model development to execution and data analysis.

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Edward F. Romero
(505) 844-7384

Michael F. Hessheimer
(505) 844-6229