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Chamber Enables Demonstration of TRL 6 Criteria

As Valley Tech Systems, Inc., (VTS) redefines solid-propulsion technologies to give next-gen missile and space launch systems greater safety and affordability, the company is expanding its research and development capabilities. In February, the company completed installation of an altitude testing chamber at its propulsion development facility in Reno, Nev.

VTS Altitude Chamber

Mechanical engineers Cassidy Hebert, left, and Alex Hartman, right, are shown with a newly-installed altitude chamber in Reno, Nev. Valley Tech Systems, Inc., will use the chamber to demonstrate the maturity of its solid-propulsion technologies. (Image: VTS, Inc.)

The chamber enables the company to demonstrate its transformative propulsion technologies in a near vacuum similar to conditions in the upper atmosphere and space. The chamber simulates altitudes over 100,000 feet, enabling VTS to meet Department of Defense and NASA Technology Readiness Level 6 (TRL 6) criteria for demonstration in a relevant environment. VTS also has installed a simulation test lab that will be used to qualify avionics with hardware-in-the-loop testing.

“These new testing capabilities position us to demonstrate the maturity of our innovative solid-propulsion technologies for defense and space applications,” said Russell Carlson, vice president, VTS Aerospace Division.

Other VTS test facilities include a chamber with a cold-gas proofing and flow configuration and an ambient hot-fire configuration in Reno, as well as a remote ambient hot-fire test pad in Lovelock, Nev. (See list of propulsion testing facilities below.)

VTS facilities are fully permitted for energetic system development, storage and testing and meet all local, state and federal requirements for operation as a qualified NASA and Department of Defense supplier.

VTS Propulsion Testing Facilities
Cold-gas and Hydro Proofing and Flow Testing Chamber Configuration
  • Used for pressure vessel/component design verification.
  • Indoor facility in Reno, Nev.
Ambient Hot-fire Chamber Configuration
  • Used to test integrated hot-gas valve propulsion subsystems.
    • Propellant weight limit: 3 pounds.
  • Indoor facility in Reno.
Altitude Test Chamber
  • Used to demonstrate small exo-atmospheric propulsion system prototypes (divert and attitude control systems; attitude control systems; and post boost systems) and to develop and verify propulsion, electronics and avionics in a relevant environment for technology maturation, > TRL 6.
    • Size: 72-inch diameter by 65 inches long; 151 cubic feet.
    • Altitude test capability: Rated > 100,000 feet (30.5 kilometers) and down to 60,000 feet (18.3 kilometers) to simulate engine operation.
    • Propellants: Solid, cold-gas and liquid monopropellant.
    • Solid motor capability: 6 degrees of freedom; load stand permits rotation on all 3 axis and measures torque and load in all 3 orientations.
  • Indoor facility in Reno.
Simulation Test Lab
  • Used for qualification of avionics with hardware-in-the-loop testing.
  • Indoor facility in Reno.
Remote Ambient Hot-fire Test Pad
  • Used for hot-fire testing of large controllable propulsion systems.
    • 50-by-50-foot test pad.
    • Remote control capability.
  • Outdoor facility at Derby Field in Lovelock, Nev.

Products developed by the VTS Aerospace Division include solid rocket motors, gas generators, ignitors and ignition systems, controllable propulsion systems and highly integrated propellant impulse control devices for: missile defense interceptors and kill vehicles; strategic, tactical and hypersonic missiles, as well as maneuvering reentry systems; and, commercial and military space launch systems and payloads.

Valley Tech Systems’ innovative hot gas, throttling and extinguishment and reignition technologies regulate the use of solid propellant to achieve levels of precision and long-duration operation that approach those of liquid and cold-gas systems. Solid propulsion systems offer superior reliability, safety and affordability.