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Range Safety

VandenburgMissile flight requires the acceptance of certain risks from a variety of hazards. These hazards may include malfunctioning explosive components, falling debris, and high energy impacts. Range safety incorporates a multitude of disciplines to minimize the risks involved and provide protection from these potential hazards. In support of range safety, APT has performed a variety of analyses, which include:

  • Debris Studies
  • Range Safety Systems
  • System Design and Analysis
  • Ordnance Circuitry Analysis
  • RF Hazard Analysis
  • Malfunction Analysis
  • Failure Investigations

Debris Studies

During the launch and subsequent flight of a missile system, debris can be generated from a variety of sources. These include debris generated from a destruct action, debris from a vehicle breakup, and debris resulting form a hypervelocity collision. APT has developed a variety of tools and techniques used to create models of such debris and assess the resulting risks, thus ensuring the safety of people and assets on the ground, in the air, and in space. Our personnel have also performed evaluation of tools and methodologies developed by external organizations.

Range Safety Systems

The major launch facilities utilize range safety systems which are intended to protect surrounding population. This is done by issuing in-flight commands to terminate the missile in the event that it malfunctions in an unsafe manner. These systems utilize real-time data from multiple sources to accurately track the missile's progress and take appropriate action in the event of a malfunction. Design and evaluation of these systems involves multiple subsystems including RF, Telemetry, Optics, Ordnance Circuitry, and Integrated Communication and Computer Networks. APT personnel have conducted design studies and evaluations of both U.S. and international safety systems.

System Design and Analysis

Planning for safety early in the development of a system is critical to ensuring safety impacts are considered during the design and development of Flight Termination Systems (FTS), ordnance and ignition circuits, payload inhibits, safety tracking systems, and software. APT personnel have conducted numerous FTS design evaluations, single point of failure (SPoF) analyses, and system software assessments on a variety of systems.

Ordnance Circuitry Analysis

A key safety concern is to assure that all ordnance devices are protected by physical and electrical features to prevent initiation until planned use. APT has reviewed electrical circuits and fault tree analyses on a host of missile systems.

Radio Frequency Hazard Analysis

Any time high energy equipment such as a missile tracking system is put into use, there is a risk of harmful radiation. APT has the tools and experience to characterize the hazards associated with an radio frequency emitter.

Malfunction Analysis

On occasion, malfunctions can occur in a missile system which increase the potential hazard from missile flight. Anticipating these malfunctions and ensuring protection from the potential hazards is a major theme in the range safety analyses conducted by APT personnel.

Failure Investigations

In the unfortunate event that a missile system does malfunction, an investigation must be conducted to determine the cause of the malfunction. APT personnel have been involved in such investigations at a number of major missile ranges.

Download the Range Safety Brochure.

Point of Contact

Alice Correa 256.327.3373