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Preliminary measurements on a recently built shock tube are presented. Planar shock waves are excited by the spark discharge of a capacitor, and launched into the neutral argon or nitrogen gas as well as its ionized glow discharge in the pressure region 1–17 Torr. For the shock wave propagation in the neutral argon at fixed capacitor charging voltage, the shock wave velocity is found to increase nonlinearly at the lower pressures, reach a maximum at an intermediate pressure, and then decrease almost linearly at the higher pressures, whereas the shock wave strength continues to increase at a nonlinear rate over the entire range of pressure. However, at fixed gas pressure the shock wave velocity increases almost monotonically as the capacitor charging voltage is increased. For the shock wave propagation in the ionized argon glow, the shock wave is found to be most influenced by the glow discharge plasma current. As the plasma current is increased, both the shock wave propagation velocity and the dispersion width are observed to increase nonlinearly.