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.
"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 fleet."
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. "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 failure modes."