By Lori Hudnall, ATECJuly 25, 2016
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (May 17, 2016) -- When a soldier behind enemy lines has to fire a weapon, it's a matter of life and death. It's imperative that our Soldiers have confidence in the weapon systems we put in their hands. One way we vet these systems before they are deployed into service is through rigorous data collection on system performance prior to production.
This specific method of data collection, referred to as telemetry, is a means of communication by which data is gathered during testing at various locations and transmitted to receiving equipment that allows for the data to be monitored and recorded.
"Telemetry is basically missile-health data collection that is sent back to the ground for monitoring by experts," said Collyn Mann, lead program engineer at the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command's U. S. Army Redstone Test Center (RTC).
"If you've ever watched a NASCAR race, you've seen the live data streaming on your screen tracking things like miles per hour, revolutions per minutes, throttle position and track position. It's the same concept applied to weapon systems," said Kenny Chenoweth, Chief of RTC's Instrumentation Division.
RTC's Missile and Sensor Test Directorate includes a team completely focused on the different aspects of telemetry. This team, the Instrumentation Division, customizes telemetry kits to customer requirements based on the data that is requested. The team designs, develops, manufactures and supports customers from the genesis of the system through the live-fire event.
The Instrumentation Divison team, part of RTC's Missiles and Sensors Test Directorate, focuses on the different aspects of telemetry and customizes telemetry kits to customer requirements based on the data requested. The team designs, develops, manufactures and supports customers from the genesis of the system through the live-fire event.
In order to collect the data, telemetry kits are placed within the missile or other system being tested. When the missile is fired, RTC's engineers and technicians are onsite to remotely monitor the data coming into the telemetry van or ground station. With the mobile telemetry units, RTC's team is often deployed to other parts of the country and other parts of the world.
Living in the information age, data is very valuable. When a test is conducted, the team receives and records the information and passes it along to the customer. While gathering the data may seem like a quick process, from receiving customer requirements to supporting the actual test, an average telemetry kit design and implementation can take a year to 18 months or longer, depending on the level of detail needed.