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Research Range Services (RRS) personnel continued their support of the Suborbital Technology Experiment Carrier (SubTEC) mission with the launch of a Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket from the Wallops Research Range on June 10, 2011.
This mission was the fourth flight of the SubTEC series and was configured to provide a reusable platform for development testing of sounding rocket and other technologies.
The RRS Program supported the mission with a full suite of Range services which included three tracking radar assets, telemetry, optical, meteorological, command and control and other services. See Figure 1.
Most sounding rockets leave Wallops launch pads without a hitch; however, range personnel faced what was classified as a misfire on June 9, 2011, as the rocket failed to ignite when commanded. Range personnel couldn’t remember the last time a misfire occurred at the Research Range, but the Wallops Test Director enacted safety protocols and directed the Launch Pad Supervisor to evaluate the misfire, determine the cause, and provide input for a possible solution.
The Launch Pad Supervisor determined that the firing command never reached the vehicle – the result of a short circuit. Range personnel worked together with NASA’s Sounding Rockets Program Office to determine the vehicle was not compromised and allowed the Test Director to proceed with launch operations the next day.