Press Release

Wyle Test Laboratory and Staff Help Get Rocket Launches Back on Track

By SpaceRef Editor
March 30, 2009
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Wyle’s Southern California test laboratory and engineering staff have provided crucial services to allow the resumption of Delta rocket launches for military and commercial customers.

Launches were delayed because of an industry-wide alert that numerous components on the Atlas and Delta rockets were not sufficiently tested for their ability to withstand the rigors of launch.

“Prime contractors were alerted last year and screened all of their suppliers to make sure their shock measurement systems were suitable,” said Jim Juve, general manager of Wyle’s Western Test Operations. “Wyle’s approach was approved and the prime contractors notified their suppliers they could test with us and get reliable test results.”

Gary Payton, U.S. Air Force deputy under secretary for space programs, told, the online journal of the Air Force Association, that test equipment used to perform vibration tests on some of the Delta IV components had not been calibrated correctly for the past several years. This meant there were parts in the rockets’ supply chain that may not have been adequately tested, according to Payton, and that they would have to be retested before the U.S. Air Force launched a rocket with one of the questionable parts. According to an article in Space News, the components all shared the need to be tested for resistance to pyrotechnical shock resulting from the small explosions that are ordered during a launch to release fuels or separate rocket stages.

Wyle, which is one of the oldest qualification test laboratories in the United States, uses a proprietary test system that focuses careful attention to components and processes to ensure accuracy throughout the very intense vibration period of the test.

United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy rocket, carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, successfully lifted off on Jan. 17. This was the first Delta IV Heavy mission for the National Reconnaissance Office and the third Delta IV Heavy launch in Delta program history.

Wyle, a privately held company, is a leading provider of high tech aerospace engineering and information technology services to the federal government on long-term outsourcing contracts. The company has routinely tested items for space launch for several decades and has been involved in nearly every U.S. space program since the 1950s. The company also provides life sciences services for NASA’s astronaut corps as well as mission critical support services and space simulation; test and evaluation of aircraft, weapon systems, networks, and other government assets; and other engineering services to the aerospace, defense, nuclear power, communications and transportation industries.

SpaceRef staff editor.