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A Fabry–Perot interferometer system was used to measure the free‐surface velocity of α‐alumina powder compact. In situ pressure profile measurements using a pair of manganin gauges were also carried out to clarify the compaction process during compression and stress release. The Fabry–Perot system indicates that the reflectivity of the free surface of the powder material does not significantly change during the stress release process. An observed feature of the powder’s stress release curve as determined by the manganin gauge suggests the existence of the residual voids in the shock compressed powder matrix even in the high shock pressure regime.