Tests of the naval component of the American missile defense system are being carried out at the Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range of the US Navy. It was founded in 1966 after the transfer of the Air Force base located here to the Navy. The main onshore infrastructure of the landfill is concentrated on the west coast of Kauai. On a stretch of coast 11 km long and with a total area of 14.7 km² there are: a control center, air, surface and underwater situation control points, launch sites with equipment for launching missiles and an airfield with a strip of 1830x45 m., 1 thousand km². More than 60 hydrophones were installed to monitor the underwater situation in nearby waters at depths from 700 to 4,600 meters. Formally, the test site also includes a controlled airspace around the Hawaiian Islands, with an area of more than 100,000 km², known as the Hawaiian Air Defense Zone. The advantages of the landfill are its remoteness from densely populated land areas and a mild tropical climate.
The complex of the objective control system created here serves to provide combat training for the crews of submarines, surface ships and aircraft. At the test site, weapons and naval equipment were tested and evaluated in conditions close to combat. For this, during exercises and tests, a complex jamming environment is created by means of electronic warfare. Work within the framework of the development of anti-missile systems began here almost from the very moment of the founding of the test site. From the launch sites of the island of Kauai, the Star target missiles were launched during tests of the Spartan interceptor missiles launched from the Kwajelin Atoll.
Since 1958, more than 6,000 different tests and exercises have been conducted at the Barking Sands test site in the interests of the US Department of Defense, the US Department of Energy and NASA. Also, warships and aviation of the armed forces of Australia, Canada, the Republic of Korea and Japan took part in the exercises held at the training ground. In 1962, a missile with a nuclear warhead was launched from the Aten Allen missile cruiser in the water area of the Barking Sands test site. Having flown 2,200 km, it exploded at an altitude of 3,400 meters near Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean.
Google Earth Snapshot: Barking Sands Range Radar Complex
STARS target missiles were launched from the missile range on the island of Kauai to test and configure early warning systems. This launch vehicle was created using the first two stages of the Polaris-A3 SLBM, and the ORBUS-1A solid-propellant block is used as the third stage.
In recent years, the final stages of testing the Aegis and THAAD anti-missile systems have taken place at the Barking Sands test site. During the most important tests under the missile defense program, radar and telemetry stations in Hawaii are connected to the means of objective control available at the test site. So telemetry information received by the Air Force on the island of Oahu is transmitted via fiber optic cable to the command center of the range. Video recording is provided by the Air Force optical stations on the island of Maui.
The most significant work carried out at the Pacific missile range is considered to be the tests carried out during the development and improvement of the Aegis shipborne multipurpose weapons control system.
During the tests of the anti-missile "Standard-3" mod.1 (SM-3 Block I), launched on February 24, 2005 from the cruiser Lake Erie, destroyed a target missile launched from the Barking Sands ground launcher.
Google Earth Snapshot: Barking Sands Rocket Range
The work on the missile defense program carried out at the test site is not limited to the launch of target missiles. So, on August 4 and August 28, 2005, suborbital missiles were launched. The purpose of these launches was to test detection systems and carry out work to collect a base of ballistic target signatures.
In 2006, the ground forces' anti-missile system THAAD was delivered to Barking Sands from the continental United States from the White Sands test site for the final stage of testing. This anti-missile system implements the concept of kinetic interception, which implies a direct hit of the anti-missile on the target. During the tests, a target simulating a Scud missile launched from a mobile platform in the Pacific Ocean was successfully hit. Target missiles "Storm" were used as simulators of the "Scud" missiles (the first stage is the upgraded OTR "Sergeant" engine, and the second is the third stage of the "Minuteman-1" ICBM) and "Hera" (based on the second and third stages of the ICBM " Minuteman-2 ").
At the end of October 2007, after the end of the tests, one THAAD battery began to carry out experimental combat duty in the eastern part of the island of Kauai. On June 5, 2008, another target-type missile was launched from a floating platform, successfully intercepted at an altitude of about 22 km. Of the fourteen launches at the Barking Sands Range between November 2006 and October 2012, eleven were successful. The mobile ground-based anti-missile system for high-altitude transatmospheric interception of medium-range missiles THAAD is currently in service in the United States. Shipments for the fifth battery at Fort Bliss, TX were due to be completed in 2015. It is known that Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea intend to acquire THAAD anti-missile systems.
During the tests, to clarify the flight parameters of the target missiles, the SBX sea-based radar with AFAR was used, which is a floating radar station installed on a self-propelled semi-submersible oil platform CS-50. This platform was built in 2001 at the Russian Vyborg shipyard. The CS-50 was originally built for offshore oil production in the North Sea. The SBX radar station is designed to detect and track space objects, including high-speed and small-sized ones, as well as generate data for targeting missile defense systems. According to American data, the detection range of targets with an RCS of 1 m² reaches 4,900 km. In Alaska, in the port of Adak, a special pier has been built for the SBX floating radar. It is assumed that the SBX, being in this place, will be on alert, controlling the western missile-hazardous direction and issue, if necessary, target designation to American anti-missile missiles deployed in Alaska.
Google earth snapshot: SBX missile defense radar while parked at Pearl Harbor
On April 27, 2007, the Aegis system successfully tested the possibility of destroying two ballistic missiles at the same time in the water area of the test site. From October 2009 to August 2010, shipboard anti-missile systems were tested here with the involvement of warships of the South Korean and Japanese navies.
On February 21, 2008, an anti-missile system "Standard-3" mod. 1A (SM-3 Block IA), which successfully hit an American satellite that lost control at an altitude of 247 km.
On July 30, 2009, during a US Navy exercise, a ballistic missile was launched from a training ground on the island of Kauai; it was intercepted by an interceptor missile from the DDG-70 Hopper URO destroyer.
The US Navy plans to equip 62 destroyers and 22 cruisers with the Aegis missile defense system. As a result, the total number of SM-3 interceptor missiles on US Navy warships in 2015 was to be increased to 436 units, and in 2020 to 515 units. In addition, on the island of Kauai in April 2015, a base was put into operation for testing the Aegis system, adapted for ground deployment.
At the ground test base of the Aegis system, it is envisaged to erect a building to accommodate information processing systems, a position for installing an antenna in a radio-transparent fairing, a missile launch site, a backup electric generator and other infrastructure elements. It also envisaged the construction of an Aegis ground facility on the continental United States in Moorstown, New Jersey.
Thus, it can be noted that the US Navy Pacific Range "Barking Sands" plays a key role in testing the ground forces' anti-missile system THAAD and the ship's anti-missile system "Aegis".
The northernmost American missile range in the Pacific zone is the Kodiak Launch Complex, located on the island of the same name off the coast of Alaska. Launch facilities were erected at Cape Narrow on Kodiak Island. This facility was commissioned in 1998 and was built by a private contractor with the money of shareholders, the controlling stake in the Kodiak complex is controlled by the government of the state of Alaska.
The Kodiak Launch Complex is a successful example of collaboration between the US government and a private contractor. It is noteworthy that from an object that does not belong to the US government, in the process of developing missile defense elements, from the end of 1998 to 2008 inclusive, target missiles were launched. In this capacity, the decommissioned SLBMs "Polaris-A3" were used.
According to officially declared statements, the launch complex off the coast of Alaska is primarily intended for launching small spacecraft into polar or highly elliptical orbits using light launch vehicles. However, according to a number of experts, this facility was specially built so that target missiles launched from Kodiak Island could imitate the flight trajectory of ICBMs launched towards the United States from Russian territory as close to reality as possible. It can be noted that after the US withdrawn from the ABM Treaty, the tendency of the last decade is an increase in the intensity of work on anti-missile issues and the gradual transfer of the bulk of anti-missile weapons tests to the Pacific zone.
Launch vehicle "Minotaur" at the launch complex "Kodiak"
Another interesting feature of the Kodiak complex was the use of Minotaur carrier rockets for launching spacecraft. American solid-propellant launch vehicles of the Minotaur family were developed by the Orbital Science Corporation by order of the US Air Force on the basis of the Piskiper and Minuteman ICBM sustainer stages. Since US law prohibits the sale of government military equipment, Minotaur rockets can only be used to launch government spacecraft, and are not available for commercial use.
Launch of the Athena-1 carrier rocket from the launch pad on Kodiak Island
Apparently, the Kodiak launch complex, despite its status as a joint stock company, in the near future will be engaged in launches only in the interests of the US Department of Defense. Since 1998, here, in addition to military launches, it was planned to launch Athena-1 light-class missiles. The first and, most likely, the last test launch of this rocket from Cape Narrow, which carried the light satellite Starshine-3 into orbit, took place on September 29, 2001 in the interests of NASA.
On August 25, 2014, a few seconds after the launch from Kodiak Island, on command from the ground, a three-stage solid-propellant STARS IV rocket was detonated due to a malfunction in the control system. When creating the STARS IV launch vehicle, two stages from the Polaris-A3 missiles and the ORBUS-1A solid-propellant unit were used. The purpose of the launch was to test a promising hypersonic aircraft - AHW. This weapon is being created as part of the Global Rapid Strike Project. According to this concept, the US Department of Defense is developing global weapons systems capable of hitting targets in any region of the world no more than one hour after launch.
The Wallops Cosmodrome is one of the oldest American rocket test centers. Its launch sites are located on the island of the same name, separated from the east coast by the shallow Bogs Bay. The cosmodrome consists of three separate sections with a total area of 25 km²: Wallops Island, where the launch complex is located, the main base and an airfield on the mainland.
The launch site was originally founded in 1945 as the Wallops Island Test Center. Aerodynamic research and testing of jet engines, light rockets, high-altitude balloons and unmanned aerial vehicles were carried out here. In the early years of its existence, Wallops research focused on capturing motion data at transonic and low supersonic speeds. From the outset, most of the research at the test center was led by civilian specialists. After the creation of NASA in 1958, the test center came under the jurisdiction of the Space Agency and was subordinated to the Goddard Space Flight Center.
Launch of the "Little Joe" rocket
With the accumulation of experience by the staff of the center and the improvement of the material and technical base, the mass and dimensions of the launched missiles grew. If in the early 40s these were mainly light meteorological rockets of the Super Locky type, by the end of the 50s, Little Joe research rockets began to be launched here to test manned capsules and rescue means.
In the 1950s, much attention was paid in the United States to the development of effective formulations for solid-propellant jet engines for missiles, SLBMs, ICBMs and launch vehicles. As you know, solid-propellant rockets are safer and have lower operating costs.
An unsuccessful attempt to launch an experimental two-stage solid-propellant rocket "Scout-X" from Wallops Island was made on April 18, 1960. The launch itself was successful, but the rocket crumbled in the air during the separation of the first stage. Subsequently, the rocket was revised, the number of stages increased to four, and components and components that were successfully tested in military missiles UGM-27 Polaris and MGM-29 Sergeant were used in it.
Launch LV "Scout"
The first successful launch of the Scout light-class launch vehicle with the Explorer 9 satellite for exploration of the upper atmosphere took place on February 15, 1961. Several variants of carrier rockets of the Scout family were created, differing from each other in engines, the number of stages and the control system. These fairly reliable launch vehicles were used by both the military and NASA, including during the implementation of international space programs. In total, up to 1994, more than 120 Scout missiles were launched.
Google earth snapshot: Wallops spaceport test facility
In 1986, NACA built a monitoring and measurement complex for flight tracking and control on the territory of the cosmodrome. Receiving and transmitting equipment with antenna diameters of 2, 4-26 m provides reception and high-speed transmission of data coming from objects directly to their owners. The technical characteristics of the control and measuring complex allow trajectory measurements of objects at a distance of 60 thousand km with an accuracy of 3 m in range, and up to 9 cm / s in speed. The Wallops cosmodrome control center provides scientific support and participates in the flight control of all orbital spacecraft and scientific interplanetary stations and is used in the interests of the Air Force Eastern Rocket Range. During its existence, the Wallops cosmodrome has carried out over 15,000 launches of various types of rockets.
In 2006, part of the launch site was leased to a private aerospace corporation and used for commercial launches under the name Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. In 2013, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer probe was launched from Wallops Island by the Minotavr-V launch vehicle, designed to study the moon.
In the 90s, the American company Aerojet Rocketdine signed a contract with SNTK im. Kuznetsov for the purchase of 50 oxygen-kerosene rocket engines NK-33 at a price of 1 million US dollars. In the United States, these engines, after being modernized by Aerojet and receiving American certificates, received the designation AJ-26. They are used in the first stages of the Antares LV, which are also launched from the Wallops Cosmodrome. On October 28, 2014, during an attempt to launch, barely leaving the launch pad, the Antares launch vehicle with the Signus spacecraft exploded. At the same time, the launching facilities were seriously damaged.
Recently, the administration of the cosmodrome has been forced to spend significant funds on strengthening the coastline and building dams. Due to rising sea levels, Wallops Island loses 3-7 meters of coast annually. Some access roads and structures have been rebuilt several times over the past five years. But given the importance of the launch site to the US space program, NASA has to face it.
In addition to the above test rocket ranges and spaceports, the United States has a number of facilities where rocket tests and research related to the space industry are carried out. Traditionally, the largest test centers are run by the defense department.
Edwards Air Force Base, also known as the US Air Force Flight Test Center, occupies a special place in the history of American aviation and astronautics. It was founded in 1932 as a bombing training ground. The airbase has the longest runway in the United States, with a length of 11.9 km. It is designed for landing shuttles. Near the strip, on the ground, is a huge compass about a mile in diameter. The Space Shuttle reusable spacecraft were tested here and then repeatedly landed after being in space. The advantage of the base is its unique geographical position. It is located in a desert, sparsely populated area, on the site of the bottom of a dry salt lake, where the surface is quite smooth and durable. This greatly facilitates the construction and expansion of the runways. Dry and sunny weather with a large number of sunny days per year is favorable for flight tests of aviation and rocket technology.
Google earth snapshot: Edwards Air Force Base
On July 19, 1963, records of speed (6, 7 M) and flight altitude (106 km) were set here on an experimental manned jet vehicle X-15. In 1959, the first 8 solid-propellant Minuteman ICBMs were launched from an experimental silo. As part of the Space Shuttle reusable manned spacecraft program, the Northrop HL-10 Lifting Body was tested at the airbase from December 22, 1966 to July 17, 1970.
Rocket plane Northrop HL-10 in the eternal parking lot of the airbase "Edwards"
The highly unusual looking HL-10 Lifting Body was used to study and test the landing and safe maneuvering capability of a low-aerodynamic aircraft. It had an almost round midship top surface with three keels and a flat, slightly curved bottom. The rocket plane was equipped with an engine that had previously been used on the X-15. During test flights, the HL-10 flew into the air, being suspended under the B-52 bomber. Over the entire testing period, 37 flights were performed. At the same time, the HL-10 reached a record speed (1, 86 M) and flight altitude (27, 5 km) for all rocket planes with a load-bearing body.
On September 13, 1985, Edwards AFB became the place from where an upgraded F-15 fighter took off, destroying the inoperative P78-1 Solwind satellite with an ASM-135 missile.
The northeastern part of the airbase is occupied by the Air Force Research Laboratory Branch, founded in 1953. Here solid-fuel and liquid-propellant jet engines and rockets are created and tested. The branch's specialists have made a great contribution to the development and testing of rocket engines: Atlas, Bomark, Saturn, Thor, Titan and MX, as well as the main engine of the Shuttle. The latest achievement is participation in the implementation of a program to create a new generation of anti-missile systems, including the THAAD theater missile system.
Flight Research Center named after Armstrong "(until March 1, 2014 named after Dryden), which is operated by NASA, shares the territory of the Edwards AFB with the military. Currently, the main areas of work of the center are the creation of engines operating on alternative fuels, engines using solar energy, research of flights in the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds and the creation of unmanned aerial vehicles with a continuous flight duration of more than 100 hours.
Google earth snapshot: solid rocket boosters used to launch the Space Shuttle next to the heavy Global Hawk UAV
At the airbase, along with other programs, research is being conducted in the field of cryogenic rocket engines with the aim of creating hypersonic cruise missiles. The development of the X-51A missiles is part of the "rapid global strike" concept. The main goal of the program is to reduce the flight time of high-precision cruise missiles.
The "Western Naval Test Site" is primarily used to test naval missile weapons systems. The infrastructure and means of objective control of the range are used in the interests of the Air Force, ground forces, NASA, as well as to support joint exercises with the armed forces of friendly foreign states. The California test site has all the necessary infrastructure for the test complex: missile launch sites, tracking and trajectory measurements, and a control center. All facilities are located along the coast in a common area with the Point Mugu measuring complex. About 3,000 missiles were launched at the Western Range of the Navy from 1955 to 2015. For the most part, these were anti-aircraft, anti-ship and cruise missiles designed to destroy ground targets, including those of foreign production. However, test and control training launches of OTR and SLBMs also took place here. In 2010, another test of a combat laser installed on board a Boeing 747-400 took place in this area. The targets were ballistic missiles launched from a floating platform in the water area of the test site and from the island of San Nicolas, 100 km from Point Mugu.
Google earth snapshot: C-2 and E-2C planes at the Point Mugu airfield
Point Mugu hosts the eponymous naval aviation base with the main runway 3380 m long. Since 1998, it has been the home of the E-2C Hawkeye carrier-based AWACS aircraft of the US Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers. In the areas adjacent to the runway, there are prepared concreted areas for missile launchers. Closer to the coast, optical and radar tracking and trajectory measurements, as well as equipment for receiving telemetry information and a station of the universal time service are deployed.
Google earth snapshot: aircraft used to simulate the enemy at Point Mugu airfield
The airfield is also home to the aircraft of a special air group to support and control training and test missile launches. To conduct large-scale exercises of warships and naval aviation, in order to create maximum realism of the combat situation, foreign-made combat aircraft belonging to the private ATAK company are involved. In addition to aviation technology, the company has jamming equipment and simulators of anti-ship missiles at its disposal.
Recently, "private astronautics" has been actively developing in the United States. Relatively small companies founded by space flight enthusiasts began to enter the market for cargo delivery to orbit and "space tourism". Perhaps most unusual is Scaled Composites LLC's SpaceShipOne.
The well-known aircraft designer Burt Rutan took part in the development of this device. In the air from the Mojave airfield, SpaceShipOne with "space tourists" on board rises by a special White Knight aircraft. After undocking at an altitude of 14 km and launching a jet engine running on polybutadiene and nitrogen dioxide, SpaceShipOne gains another 50 km, where it continues to move along a ballistic trajectory. The spacecraft is in space for about three minutes and its passengers experience weightlessness. After descending to an altitude of 17 km, SpaceShipOne switches to a controlled gliding flight and lands at the airfield.
But the SpaceShipOne apparatus, developed for the purpose of "space tourism", is rather exotic. Most of the private space companies are trying to make money on the development and construction of launch vehicles and the delivery of goods into orbit under contracts with NASA. This phenomenon is largely forced for NASA. After the end of the space shuttle flights and the cancellation of the Constellation program, the United States faced the problem of sending cargo into orbit, and the American space agency, experiencing significant financial difficulties, decided to minimize the risks associated with the creation of promising launch vehicles and allowed new players to enter this market such as: Orbital Sciences, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Bigelow Aerospace, Masten Space Systems. The bill of state orders to private aerospace companies of the new wave in the United States is already in the billions of dollars. As you know, demand creates supply. In this case, with private space companies, the budget money of American taxpayers goes to pay for the final service, that is, pay for the delivery of a payload from the cosmodrome to orbit. Of course, this is very beneficial for the United States, since it does not have to divert resources and funds for missile development. NASA is currently the largest customer, no space business, with the exception, perhaps, of telecommunications and to some extent "space tourism", will not be able to exist for a long time without government orders.
The author would like to thank Anton (opus) for his help in preparing the publication.
ARTICLES FROM THIS SERIES:
US missile ranges. Part 1