It was a breakthrough year on many fronts during 2018 at the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command's Redstone Test Center, known as RTC. In 2018 RTC also learned more about the teammates who are the backbone of the center.RTC achieved a milestone at the end of March on a flight at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. A Flight Termination System developed from the ground up at RTC flew on a Tail-Controlled Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System.
The process took roughly four years to complete. This system was designed by the Instrumentation Division of RTC's Missile and Sensors Test Directorate, headed up by Collyn Mann.
"Flight Termination Systems are required when the missile system it will be riding on could fly past range boundaries," Mann said. "If the missile can leave the range, you've got to have some way to ensure it doesn't. That insurance is a Flight Termination System."RTC hosted the Black Hawk UH-60V Limited User Test in early July. The RTC team completed more than 18 months of developmental testing for the UH-60V and switched over to hosting the LUT.
The LUT included hosting two prototype UH-60V Black Hawk helicopters and putting them through their paces. RTC experimental test pilots and ground troops from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade took part in the testing. Aircrews flew the UH--60V in a variety of mission representative scenarios. RTC also conducted coordinated aircraft survivability equipment assessments at RTC test areas. RTC will continue to conduct developmental testing on the UH-60V through March.RTC unveiled a "cool" new test capability in 2018 -- producing snow. Using a multi-environment chamber at the Climatic Test Division, the test center can now generate and accumulate snow for testing of a variety of components. Snow is produced to check for the clogging of intake filters; the binding or blocking of mechanisms required for operation; the infiltration of snow into test items; and the attenuation of signals impacting operational performance.
Future work is planned to fully characterize the snow test capability, including snow accumulation rates, snow density and snow coverage areas.RTC hosted the Army Flight Test Technical Interchange Meeting at The Summit on Redstone Arsenal in September.
The three-day meeting provided a venue for aviation and flight test professionals to exchange information and ideas and discuss contemporary challenges.
Representatives from the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center's Aviation Development Directorate, Fort Eustis (Virginia), Program Executive Office for Aviation and industry attended the event.
Attendees also had the opportunity to tour RTC and learn more about the testing capabilities. The keynote address during the event was given by retired Brig. Gen. Bob Stewart, who was the first Army experimental test pilot selected as a NASA astronaut.Every quarter, the chief technology representatives from organizations across Redstone Arsenal meet to discuss various science and technological efforts being undertaken by their respective agencies and commands. In August, RTC hosted this meeting of chief technology officers, or CTO Roundup.
RTC Commander Col. John Jones and RTC's Technical Director Rob Stone addressed the group of invited science and technology leaders, explaining RTC's overall mission of test and evaluation of aviation, missiles and sensors systems.A new chapter of the Society of Flight Test Engineers launched in Huntsville in 2018. The Rocket City Chapter of SFTE was officially recognized on Jan. 11. The first president of the local chapter, Andy Gibson, is a flight test engineer at RTC. In November, Gibson was elected to serve as a director of the board of the International Society of Flight Test Engineers.
SFTE is a fraternity of engineers, whose principal professional interest is the flight testing of aerospace vehicles. Up until now, a flight test engineer could be a member of the international society but the closest chapter was on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
Membership in SFTE is open to all flight testing professionals, both missile and aviation, pilots and engineers alike.This year RTC made civilian fitness and wellness a priority through its Civilian Fitness Program. The CFP is open to all eligible RTC Army civilian teammates. The voluntary program allows leaders and supervisors to approve up to three one hour excused absences per week for up to six months to allow participants to take part in an exercise program and engage in positive health habits. The program's overall goal is to improve health and wellness and thus promote better organizational readiness and performance.
John Kelly, an interdisciplinary engineer with RTC's Missiles and Sensors Test Directorate, credits the fitness program for helping him lose 50 pounds. Kelly said the CFP helped him develop and maintain positive exercise and wellness habits and he has no plans on slowing down. "I'm still really motivated to go to the gym and really feel good when I go," he said.Every year for one day in October RTC holds a "Wear Pink" day for the workforce to come together and wear pink as a show of support in the fight against breast cancer. Statistics show one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Three RTC teammates working at the center's Aviation Flight Test Directorate, Amy Blank, Lisa O'Neal and Christie Horn, shared their diagnosis and survival stories. All are cancer free today.