By Jason B. Cutshaw, USASMDC/ARSTRATSeptember 18, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- A team of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command engineers came together to save time and money to ensure the future of the command's satellite program does not get shaken off track.
Recently, members of the USASMDC/ARSTRAT Space and Cyberspace Technology Directorate put their various expertises to use to help the Operationally Responsive Space Enabler Satellite, or ORSES, get mounted to a shake plate prior to random vibration testing at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.
Members of the Space and Cyberspace Technology Directorate team involved with the project are Dr. Travis Taylor, Ryan Wolff, Mark Ray and Cindy McCoy.
"In order for a satellite to go into the rocket that launches it, it has to go through a process where it is shaken to simulate the launch environment," Taylor said. "It is tested to find out that it is not going to harm the launch rocket and the other payload in it, and also, survive the rigors of a launch.
"Our contractors had an adaptor plate, but it was not compatible and the mounting holes would not match up with our next satellite going up," he added. "To have this happen with the contractor, there wasn't enough money and there wasn't enough time for them to accomplish it."
With ORSES preparing to launch in early November from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., it was paramount to perform all testing and preparations for the launch.
"We were concerned, and the time factor was pushing up against us," Taylor said. "So, finally we had a staff meeting, and we decided to do it ourselves. We bought our own 24-by-24, 2-inches-thick, 110-pound piece of aluminum. I, along with my dad, Charles, went out to his shop at home and worked about 20 hours in less than two days to get all the holes drilled and ready for the test.
"So what we ended up doing here at SMDC was, in a period of two to three days, was figure out how to save time and money to make sure we got our satellite tested so it will meet its launch date Nov. 4," he added.
With time being a factor before the November launch, the team took it upon themselves to ensure all would be ready for SMDC's next generation of satellites to launch into space.
"I built the satellite and performed all of the testing, and the last thing needed was to perform vibration tests," Wolff said. "These are very aggressive and we test at loads from 6g to 13g. One thing I am most proud of is we did this all in-house. From putting the satellite together from parts and pieces to making the shake plate, we did it all here."
With the launch of ORSES, the main goal is to provide support for Soldiers serving in harm's way and to provide them with another means of communication.
"This was both a bad thing, and a good thing," Taylor said. "The bad thing is that this is the sign of the times when we don't have a lot of money in the budget to get people to help us with projects like this. The good thing is that it takes us back to where we are going to have to do these things ourselves and not depend on outside sources.
"It is great to see people here in-house at SMDC really stepping up and doing great things," he added. "And with the success of the launch, we are going to help provide secure and improved tactical communications for the Warfighter, you can't top that."
As the team looks to the lessons learned, they pointed out that everything happens for a reason and said they are happy to be working together for SMDC and the troops in the field.
"This team is awesome," McCoy said. "Everyone supported each other and we came together to accomplish this mission to ultimately support the troops, and SMDC can be proud."