by Raquel March
Arnold Engineering Development Complex Public Affairs
7/16/2013 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Large
rocket testing at altitude conditions has been a common occurrence at
Arnold Engineering Development Complex's state-of-the-art Large Rocket
Motor Test Facility, or J-6, for almost 20 years. When ATK® recently
tested its CASTOR®30XL rocket in the J-6 facility, a team of engineers
had completed an upgrade of the facility's Test Unit Support System.
The result of the upgrade was the implementation of the new J-6 Facility
Control System, or FCS, which controls 16 major systems needed to
conduct a rocket test in the facility.
The J-6 Facility provides ground-test simulations for solid-propellant
rocket motors and it is used mainly for testing of stages II and III for
both Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs.
"A few of the critical systems are steam, gaseous nitrogen (GN2) and
liquid nitrogen (LN2)," said Mickey Gipson, an Information Technology
System Development manager. "Basically, the J-6 FCS is the heart of the
J-6 test facility."
One customer benefit of the FCS is better control of automatic facility
flow and pressure of steam, GN2 and LN2. Customers like ATK and the
Minuteman program will also benefit from improved system calibration and
Gipson added that customers will also experience "improved data logging
and historian features and improved human machine interface and external
interfaces using open standards."
The improved interfaces will allow interaction with different
manufacturer's equipment, using a set standard, without developing
special hardware or software for each test item.
System design, software design and installation were conducted by AEDC personnel.
"The original schedule of installation and checkout required nine months
but our project (team) accomplished it in six months," said Simon Choi,
the Air Force project manager for the new system. "We had experienced
designers and operators who are very familiar with the J-6 test process
which provided technical consistency and excellent ideas."
J-6 is designed to test Class 1.3 or 1.1 solid-propellant rocket motors
capable of up to 500,000 pounds of thrust. Measuring 26-feet in diameter
by 62-feet long, the horizontally oriented test cell is capable of
testing rocket motors at simulated altitudes up to 100,000 feet