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Missile Motor Cutting Technology



OBJECTIVE: To research and develop advance methods to dissect missile motors for obtaining fleet aging and surveillance data. 

DESCRIPTION: The multiple aspects of rocket motors are tested to obtaining fleet aging and surveillance data. This testing is key in monitoring the health of the rocket motor fleet. To obtain the testing samples rocket motors are cut into section ranging from 10 – 110 pounds. These sections are sent to the Propellant Lab at Hill AFB for test & analysis of propellant physical & chemical properties as well as propellant/liner bond strength. The cutting of the motor cases is an inherently dangerous process, if the propellant were to ignite the surrounding facility could be destroyed. The Motor Dissect Facility (MDF) currently uses a saw to cut missile cases – a carbide slitting blade for composite cases and a slotting blade for cutting steel and titanium cases. This effort is to Research and Develop (R&D) new technologies that shall modernize the cutting and dissection of missile motors at the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) MDF, prevent any degradation of the sample quality for age testing of missile propellant, increase safety to dissect personnel and facility, decrease environment burden, decrease processing time etc. Among known areas of interest are fully automating cutting capabilities, measuring propellant temperature at the point of saw impingement in the current configuration (real time knowledge of temperature vs ignition point), decrease process time while maintaining and/or increasing safety and increase in heat dissipation during cutting operations without harming sample integrity. The contractor shall perform a safety survey and analysis of the UTTR solid rocket MDF. From this safety and technology survey the contractor shall determine where opportunities exist in the MDF and the current dissect process. The contractor shall identify where improvements to the MDF can be made as well as where new technologies need to be researched and developed. The contractor shall also identify the requirements for the development of new technologies. The contractor shall perform a preliminary Business Case Analysis (BCA) to include but not limited to possible Return-On-Investment (ROI), increase in safety, decrease in environmental burden, estimates on R&D for new technologies etc. The Government will review identified opportunities and their requirements and accept or reject them. For Government accepted opportunities and requirements proof-of-concept prototype(s) for new technologies shall be researched and developed. Prototypes shall be refined and Validation and Verification (Val/Ver) testing shall be completed per identified requirements. Test plans for qualification to the Government Requirements will be developed. Test plans will be reviewed, commented on by the Government. If accepted the test plans shall be followed for qualification of the technologies. 

PHASE I: Perform survey and develop solutions that meets above requirements - conduct preliminary BCA to determine implementation costs, including a ROI calculation that compares anticipated savings to expected costs - increase in safety. Proof-of-concept prototype(s) may be developed to demonstrate conformance to the requirements. 

PHASE II: Proof-of-concept prototype(s) shall be developed/refined to installation-ready article and shall undergo testing to verify and validate compliance to requirements. This process may require multiple iterations before a final design(s) is selected. Refine BCA/ROI based on the final design(s). 

PHASE III: Verify/Validate new technologies to requirements. If the new technologies qualify to requirements then transition and implement the developed technology into MDF processes. 


1: MIL-STD-882

2:  2. TO 35D13-2-7-1

KEYWORDS: Propellant, Rocket Motors, Dissect, Cutting Technology 


Sean Wilson 

(801) 777-1739 

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