by Raquel March
Arnold Engineering Development Complex Public Affairs
8/25/2014 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Arnold
Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) personnel completed testing of a
Minuteman III Stage II motor in the Complex's J-6 Large Rocket Test
Facility for aging surveillance of the 48-year-old defense program.
"The Stage II motor is part of the Minuteman III Aging and Surveillance
test program to obtain motor performance data that is used to identify
and quantify age-related degradation," said Richard Kirkpatrick, an AEDC
test manager and engineer in the Space and Missile Test Branch. "In
addition, the motor is inspected post-test for any emerging critical
Since these motors are located in different operational locations for
varying lengths of time, aging surveillance testing may uncover critical
information that is valuable to the Department of Defense.
"Motors such as this Stage II, are pulled from the field and sent to us
to test," said Brandon Dorman, a J-6 test engineer. "The motor's age and
storage conditions are tracked and documented for the test. It is fired
at the J-6 facility and various performance parameters are collected
and analyzed to determine the motor's overall performance. This
information is then compared to build specifications, as well as
previous firings, to assist in early detection of trends that could
threaten the readiness of our nation's ICBM [Inter-Continental Ballistic
Preparation for the test involves coordination from different support areas at the Complex.
"We support buildup of the rocket motor and facility by translating the
test requirements into information that the AEDC [test] team will use to
prepare for the firing," said Paul Ritter, a J-6 project engineer.
Ritter and David Schwer, also a J-6 project engineer, share
responsibility for assessing motor performance through data analysis and
"We are able to determine, and relate to the customer, whether or not
the motor has been able to maintain its required ballistic performance,"
In addition to validating current motor performance, acquired data from
these aging surveillance tests may be useful in updating current
requirements and developing requirements for future motors.