This paper describes the design, functioning, and preliminary experiments in the Asymmetric Shock Tube for Experiments on Rarefaction Waves (ASTER), a Ludwieg-type shock tube designed and realised to measure waves propagating in dense vapour flows of organic fluids. The setup is designed to operate at pressures and temperatures of up to 15 bar and 400∘ C. The high and low-pressure sections of the tube are separated by a glass-disk barrier to ensure quasi-instantaneous opening. When the glass disk is broken, a rarefaction wave propagates into the tube. The wave speed is measured using a time-of-flight method with the help of four pressure transducers placed at known distances from each other. Leakage rates of 2.2 × 10- 4 mbar · l · s- 1 at vacuum and 5 × 10- 4 mbar · l · s- 1 at superatmospheric pressures were measured, which is considered sufficient for the conceived experiments. Preliminary rarefaction experiments in the dense vapours of dodecamethylcyclohexasiloxane, D6, were successfully performed at various thermodynamic conditions. Also, a method for the estimation of sound speeds from the pressure sensor recordings is proposed. Results are found to be within 2.5% of the values predicted by the state-of-the-art thermodynamic model for D6.