Rocket Test Group
To enhance rocket ground test operational effort, reduce ground test costs and facilitate activation of new facilities.
RTG is an entirely volunteer organization of rocket test facility operators.
40th RTG at Sandia National Labs on May 14-15, 2013!
RTG #39: OCTOBER 2-3 @ SpaceX's Test Facilities!
A tour of SpaceX's impressive test facilities included all of their large and small engine test facilities, including stopping by the site of their latest large test facility that was under a very rapid construction process. RTG members witnessed the Merlin rocket engines on the stands being prepared for tests, Draco engines for the Dragon spacecraft being prepared for test and packaged for shipping back to Hawthorn, CA after testing; the installation of Merlyn engines on a full Falcon rocket stage, and an up close view of the first Dragon capsule to have returned from space. The tour was both informative and exuberant.
RTG 38 to Mission Control, Over...
Updated on August 15, 2012
NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX hosted RTG 38 on April 10-11, 2012. The small group listened to a broader array of presentations than normal, from laboratory testing of futuristic "Star Trek" propulsion ideas, to construction and tethered testing of the Morpheus prototype lander technology test bed, to failure mode testing of electronic components and power supplies designed for use on the ISS. The group enjoyed a tour of numerous branches of JSC, including Mission Control. The group also witnessed a successful test firing of the Morpheus lander after getting up close and personal with the prototype lander the previous day. Along with the tours and briefings attendees presented and discussed their recent work, tests, problems, and facility upgrades.
RTG 37 is a Roaring Success!
Updated on March 12, 2012
ATK Bacchus, Magna, UT, and ATK Promontory, Promontory Point, UT, hosted RTG on September 7-8, 2011, alongside the firing of the DM-3 5 segment solid motor test firing. The test was the last motor firing for the Ares program. Before viewing the firing, RTG members enjoyed a close up look at the motor, briefings on the test stand and test objectives, and a chance to ask technical questions. Attendees also enjoyed a tour of the solid propellant mixing processes at ATK Bacchus. Along with the tours and solid motor briefings, attendees presented and discussed their recent work, tests, and facility upgrades.
36th RTG Meeting hosted by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, West Palm Beach
Posted on August 16, 2011
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in West Palm Beach, FL hosted the 36th Rocket Test Group (RTG) meeting on 13-14 April 2011. The 1.5-day working group for rocket test facility operators and managers was successful. A new addition to the group this meeting includes Embry-Riddle University. After an enlightening overview of Pratt & Whitney's history, the tour at this meeting included a detailed tour Pratt & Whitney's static rocket test cells as well as a tour of their aircraft jet engine test cells. Presentations were given by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Pennsylvania State University, Embry-Riddle University, NASA Glenn Research Center, NASA White Sands Test Facility, Force Measurement Systems, and Orbital Technologies Corp. The meeting was attended by representatives from U.S. government, military, university, and commercial organizations.
35th RTG Meeting hosted by Purdue University
Posted on December 29, 2010
Purdue University’s Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories in West Lafayette, IN hosted the 35th Rocket Test Group (RTG) meeting on 11-12 November 2010. The RTG meeting is a 1.5-day working group for rocket test facility operators and managers to discuss testing facilities, their practices, upgrades and changes, and recent tests. The RTG meets twice a year to discuss current issues facilities are facing and present on new practices, recent rocket firings, experiments, facility upgrades and changes, and new test cells. The RTG meetings also provide a forum to discuss problems a test cell is having and gather input on possible solutions from other test facility experts. RTG meetings provide an environment that allows operators and managers to discuss their issues and brainstorm/discuss solutions to problems. Each RTG meeting is held at a different test facility and includes facility overview presentations and a tour of the facilities themselves. The tour at this meeting included Purdue University’s static rocket test cells and the Birck Nanotechnology Center. Thirty-seven attendees from twenty-one organizations (five government organizations, six universities, and ten commercial companies) involved in rocket test facilities participated in the 35th RTG meeting. Technical presentations were provided and discussed, including the topics of university test facilities, cryogenic test facilities, hypergolic gel research, helium and hydrogen recovery, guided wave radar liquid level detection system, incorporating test data into valve modeling, digital imaging inside a motor plume, low thrust measurement issues with dynamic response profiles, and the Nation’s test facility capabilities. At this meeting, the RTG was also fortunate to have NASA White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) provide its two-day Hydrogen System Design, Analysis, and Operations Safety Training course at Purdue University for the two days prior to the meeting. The course, led by a WSTF instructor, was filled with a mixture of rocket test facility operators and Purdue University professors and graduate students.
RTG #34 hosted by Aerojet in Sacramento
Posted on February 17, 2010; last updated on March 11, 2010
Jack Standen of Aerojet Missile and Space Propulsion graciously hosted the 34th RTG Meeting at Aerojet's Sacramento location on 13-14 April 2010. These testing facilities have an extensive history in engine development and test. 24 RTG members from 16 organizations converged on the facilities they have been looking forward to seeing for a long time. The successful meeting consisted of 9 presentations, the RTG business meeting, a tour of Aerojet's testing facilities, and an always popular evening social dinner at a local restaurant. The presentations and topics of discussion included new and innovative testing methods and features, igniter systems, instrumentation lessons, digital data system fundamentals and issues, SiH4 test systems, test facilities & capabilities, the NASA Propulsion Test Master Plan. Somechallenges discussed include gas supplier quality control issues, digital signal "fold back" effect, the acceleration of objects to high speeds at unique angles for test purposes, infringement of communities upon rocket test facility sites, and how the changes in US Space Policy and NASA Strategic Plan causes changes to future test facility needs.
33rd RTG Meeting - AMPAC ISP at Niagara Falls
Posted on February 17, 2010
The Rocket Test Group's 33rd Meeting was hosted at AMPAC ISP in Niagara Falls, NY on October 14th and 15th. AMPAC ISP's facilities have an extensive history in engine development and test, and many RTG members had been looking forward to this opportunity for some time. And they did not disappoint. Attendees enjoyed presentations from fellow members, many of which focused on problems they were experiencing and their solutions, as well as discussions on possible solutions to problems that had not yet been solved. Attendees came away with the ideas and information they needed to help solve or prevent test and test stand issues. Attendees also enjoyed a tour of the testing facilities and a history lesson on the engines developed at that location over the years at that site by both AMPAC ISP and by the location's previous owner, the Atlantic Research Corporation.
32nd Rocket Test Group Meets at NASA White Sands Test Facility
The Rocket Test Group's 32nd Meeting occurred April 28th and 29th  at the NASA White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) in New Mexico. The group of rocket test facilities operators and engineers met for their typical 2-day meeting of presentations and tours of the test facilities. Engineers from the industry, government, military, and universities met together to discuss topics of interest to the testing community, including new testing facilities and facility features; designs and design approaches; problems with tests or testing practices; operational safety procedures; accidents and incidences; and lessons learned. Tours of the test stands included the new facilities under construction for the Orion Abort Flight Tests, located on the White Sands Missile Test Range.
As a special addition to this meeting, WSTF's Oxygen Group provided a 1.5- day training course on “Fire Hazards in Oxygen Systems” after the meeting. This class is offered through ASTM and is aimed at those who design oxygen systems.
Review of the 31st Rocket Testing Facility Operators Working Group Meeting
The 31st Rocket Testing Facility Operators Working Group (RTFOWG) meeting was held at Orbital Technologies Corporation's (ORBITEC) Madison Wisconsin Facilities, October 1-2, 2008, and hosted by Joan Hoopes and Jennifer Allred. The meeting consisted of 12 technical presentations and was attended by about 40 professionals. Presentation subject matter spanned a wide variety of testing topics, including project and facility overviews, new launch complex briefings, discussions of recent challenges, and new modeling testing developments. Two presentations highlighted the results of rocket tests performed at the university level. Tours of the local rocket testing facilities followed the presentations each day and stimulated discussions and comparisons of test stand design and rocket testing operations.
Attendees representing organizations from the industry, government, and military continually benefit from the knowledge and contacts gained at the RTFOWG's meetings. Founded with the belief that the sharing of information among testing facility operators would aid in solving problems experienced at testing facilities, the active membership numbers reflect the group's success. The technical discussions, test facilities tours, and professional contacts formed through the group have led to solutions to problems and challenges, business opportunities, and a greater understanding of the current test capabilities within the United States.
In addition to the presentations, attendees enjoyed tours of the rocket testing facilities at Stennis, and witnessed a hotfire test of a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-68 engine. This engine is the largest liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen engine in existence, with a thrust of 663 Klbf (2.949 MN) at sea level and 758 Klbf (3.371 MN), and is used to power the Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV).
Review of the 30th Rocket Testing Facility Operators Working Group Meeting
The 30th Rocket Testing Facility Operators Working Group (RTFOWG) meeting was held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, April 22-23, 2008, and hosted by Anthony Sones and Robert Schwer. The meeting consisted of 12 technical presentations and was attended by about 40 professionals. Presentation subject matter spanned a wide variety of testing topics, including project and facility overviews, new launch complex briefings, discussions of recent challenges, and new modeling testing developments. Two presentations highlighted the results of rocket tests performed at the university level. Tours of the local rocket testing facilities followed the presentations each day and stimulated discussions and comparisons of test stand design and rocket testing operations.
Review of the 29th Rocket Testing Facility Operators Working Group Meeting
The 29th Rocket Testing Facility Operators Working Group (RTFOWG) meeting was held at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, November 14-15, 2007, and hosted by Anthony Sones and Robert Schwer. The meeting consisted of 12 technical presentations and was attended by about 40 professionals. Presentation subject matter spanned a wide variety of testing topics, including project and facility overviews, new launch complex briefings, discussions of recent challenges, and new modeling testing developments. Two presentations highlighted the results of rocket tests performed at the university level. Tours of the local rocket testing facilities followed the presentations each day and stimulated discussions and comparisons of test stand design and rocket testing operations.