Sunday, May 4, 2014

Peacekeeper Post Boost Propulsion System (PBPS): Making ICBMs Safe

Receipt of PBPS at WSTF Test Stand 328. 

Image courtesy NASA.

NASA Johnson Space Center's White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) contracted with the United States Air Force (USAF) to make safe the Peacekeeper Post Boost Propulsion System (PBPS) stages in the next four years.

This will be done by de-tanking hypergolic rocket propellants, venting helium tanks and expending the ordnance.

In this way the stage can be destroyed by the USAF plus, reusable hardware and propellants could be harvested.

WSTF was selected by Hill Air Force Base (AFB) to make safe the PBPS stages because the facility was familiar with the stage from aging and surveillance hot-fire testing during Peacekeeper's deployment in the early 2000s.

WSTF's unique background and expertise in hypergol handling and safety, and the site's ability to hot-fire hypergol rocket systems using the propellants, made WSTF the logical choice for the safing project.

WSTF also provided the decontamination and deservicing operations for space shuttle orbital maneuvering system pods after completion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

With existing storage and handling facilities for hypergolic rocket propellants, along with the necessary environmental permits in place for hazardous test operations, the remote location and controlled access of WSTF made it highly suitable for this type of work.

In 1986, the LGM-118A Peacekeeper was the newest Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) deployed by the USAF.

At the end of the Cold War, the United States revised its strategic policy and agreed to eliminate the multiple re-entry vehicle Peacekeeper ICBMs by 2003 as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II (START II).

The missiles were deactivated, disassembled and shipped to Hill AFB in Utah. With the removal of the Peacekeeper from service, the Air Force Program Office at Hill AFB in Utah had to find methods for the disposal of the various Peacekeeper systems, as the START II required.

This included disposal of both solid propellant and hypergolic rocket propellant systems. As part of the treaty, the USAF was required to demilitarize the Peacekeeper PBPS.

No comments:

Post a Comment