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AEDC space chamber supports Ground-Based Midcourse Defense

  • Published

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) conducted a successful flight test for a program that the 10-foot vacuum (10V) chamber at Arnold Air Force Base has supported for nearly a decade.

MDA, in cooperation with the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, U.S. Northern Command, and elements of the U.S. Air Force Space Command's 30th, 50th and 460th Space Wings, conducted the successful flight test March 25 against an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) class target.

A threat-representative ICBM target launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It was successfully intercepted by two Ground-based Interceptors (GBls) launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in the first salvo test of GBls.

The 10V chamber at Arnold provides mission simulation capability for interceptor and its kill vehicle sensors. The chamber is able to characterize sensor performance in a space environment against simulated operational scenarios.

This facility provides simulation of the GBI mission from launch to intercept. Its design provides flexibility to accommodate future upgrades or alternate sensor designs.

The 10V chamber also features a high-fidelity target system containing multiple independent point source systems to characterize target acquisition and tracking operations. A complex infrared scene projection system is used to simulate additional objects in the sensor field of view and provides simulation of the endgame phase of the interceptor mission.

A visible projection system is used to generate scenes that enable characterization of star shots and objects that appear in the visible spectrum. A scene generator system is used to control the target simulation and seeker operation in a real-time, closed-loop manner.

In addition to MDA, 10V has the capability to support other DOD, NASA and commercial programs.