Thursday, March 14, 2013

New combined test force established for AEDC's newest test capability

by Philip Lorenz III
Arnold Engineering Development Complex Public Affairs

3/14/2013 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Arnold Engineering Development Complex's leadership recently heralded two firsts at the Complex -- the activation of the Space Combined Test Force, and acceptance of the new test and evaluation mission that the CTF will execute.

The CTF integrates Air Force engineers with Aerospace Testing Alliance contracted engineers and support personnel to jointly conduct testing in the Space Threat Assessment Testbed, a recently activated space test chamber.

STAT is the newest ground test capability at the Complex since the Large Rocket Test Cell came online in 1993. STAT will reach Initial Operating Capability in April, followed by Full Operational Capability certification by September 2013.

"The CTF is responsible for two missions: space sensors testing in our 7V and 10V chambers and space environments testing in STAT," said Chris Smith, technical director for AEDC's Space and Missile Test. "Our chambers will continue to be government-managed and contractor-operated. However, STAT will operate under the construct of integrated USAF/ATA test planning, design and operations."

Once fully operational, STAT will be able to simulate realistic operational environments for testing hardware using multiple space weather generators. STAT will subject test articles to conditions found outside the Earth's atmosphere, including near-vacuum, extreme cold and the combined effects of natural and man-made phenomena.

"With commencement of STAT test operations and realization of the CTF, we will have military personnel, government civilians and contractors participating collaboratively in test planning, coordination with test customers, test execution and test data reduction," said Mike Ketron, Space CTF director. "ATA will be providing support as they always have with the various test chambers."

Mike Scott, an ATA Test Director for the STAT, sees this organization as a positive step for the future.

"Bringing Air Force and ATA personnel together to work directly toward the common goal of satisfying test customers will help morale and make for a more efficient test team," he said.

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