WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M., January 7, 2010- Testing at White Sands Missile Range is becoming faster and more efficient with the upgrade of the WSMR data network.

Connecting and using new instruments and sensors will be easier than before with the help of an internet protocol system.

"It's no longer operating system or platform dependant," said Fil Macias, the division chief for Networking and Control.

In nearly every test conducted on the range data is collected from a wide variety of sources. Optics, telemetry, radar and dozens of other instruments and sensors collect performance data, which is then viewed and recorded by test officers. Uniting all these different instruments and ensuring that they are capable of communicating with each other has been a task for technicians, who must ensure that every instrument is compatible with the larger network. The new system will facilitate this process.
While the system will still be a secure network, able to support military testing of different level, the new IP based system allows new hardware to be added with significantly less concern about compatibility. In the past, all hardware on the network had to meet specific requirements. Now with the use of the IP based system, any system that is capable of being connected to the Internet is compatible with the new range network.

While the new system will make adding new equipment easier, it also means that adding new equipment will be cheaper, as acquisition officers will have a much wider latitude and wider selection of products and systems to choose from. Also, custom equipment will have better and more widely known standards to meet.

The new network also means that the range will be much more flexible when testing. "Before, Range Control was the hub, and for the test officer, it still can be. But now you can also be more dispersed geologically, anywhere you have a network connection, you can have a test," said Robert Garcia, a computer engineer with the Systems Engineering Directorate.

Ensuring that the network is secure and running at peak efficiency is another area that the upgrade will enhance. Using the new IP network many common sets of control software can be converted over to run off of a central server, ensuring that all systems are running the latest software. "If you had, say 100 machines, and a new version of the software came out, you had to make sure that all those machines had the new version. Now the application will live on the network and run through a browser," Garcia said. This net based system will also be capable of streaming media, similar to an online video service, so that multiple authorized users can view data and video feeds without the need for separate subscriber systems.

The $29 million project is expected to be complete later this year.

Page last updated Fri January 8th, 2010 at 14:03