See, Why Holloman High Speed Test Track Is So Famous?

If somebody is fond of very high speed and safety capabilities, then he should go to New Mexico in the USA. That is where they have Holloman Air Force base at Holloman High-Speed Test Track (HHSTT) in South Central New Mexico, USA. The length of the track is 15.47 km and suitable for high-speed testing. The rocket sled track at Edwards Air Force Base was dismantled and used to extend the track at Holloman Air Force Base, taking it to almost 10 miles in length.

Screen shot 2015-01-31 at 3.28.38 PM

Photo Source: Dainik Bhaskar

The US rules limit the highway speed between 120-130 km. If one needs or wants to drive at higher speed, he pays a bit extra and test the speed.

On the track, there is a place having a board saying ” Mach 10.” That means that the speed limit is ten times the speed of sound or 12250 km per hour. The driver can decide and infer the speed made good in a test drive. So far, a rate equivalent to 8.5 Mach was made in April 2003.

Built in the desert of Tularosa basin the track is totally plane. The maximum temperature here is 43-degree census. And in winters the minimum temperature is minus 17 degrees. That means the weather here is superb. So far not even one test has never been put off. In 1942, the Holloman test track was not made for testing of cars but for rocket sled where they used the rails. Here the American Defense and Government agencies used the track for rockets and other equipments for testing high speed.

In the modern era pilot seat ejection, parachute, nuclear missile, and seat belt advancement on this base play a significant role.

HHSTT Purpose 

The HHSTT’s mission is to provide a cost-effective, realistic, dynamic test environment for the entire acquisition community, including the DoD, other government agencies, contractors, and foreign governments. As a ground-based test facility, the HHSTT provides a cost-effective, controlled test environment for high-speed weapons, systems, and components. Full-scale flight tests tend to be more expensive than sled testing and present fewer opportunities to recover the test article for post-test evaluation. via


As of April 2014, over 12,400 sled tests have been performed at the HHSTT. The first vehicle tests were performed in 1950; the facility has been in continuous operation since then. The HHSTT is unusual within the DoD Test and Evaluation community because it has organic management, engineering, fabrication, and test process capabilities in one location. This ability to provide a “one-stop-shop” reduces test costs and schedule issues associated with geographically-separated project functions.

A wide variety of tests have been performed at the HHSTT, including aircraft crew escape systems, rain and particle erosion tests, impact testing, weapons dispense testing, electronic warfare, guidance system testing, and an extensive array of aerodynamic tests.

Because of the HHSTT’s location on a military reservation in a sparsely populated area, tests may be performed in a secure environment. These vast areas of open space may also be used to verify items that are explosive, ballistic, or otherwise hazardous. via

Amenities provided

The most prominent feature of the facility is the rail system (similar in appearance to railroad tracks) used to launch rocket-powered test vehicles known as “sleds”.


F-22 forebody on a MASE sled at Holloman Air Force Base

Photo Source: Wikipedia

The rail system is located just east of the White Sands National Monument, and consists of a concrete foundation known as the girder that supports the two primary rails and a single tertiary rail. The western-most rail is known as “A rail”, followed by the adjacent “B rail” and “C rail.” The alignment of the tracks is nearly north-south. All three rails are fabricated from heavy-duty crane rail (171 lbs/yard or 84.9 kg/meter) and are maintained in an alignment of no more than 0.025 inches (0.635mm) deviation from a nominal reference line between rail tie downs.

A and B rails constitute the primary tracks and are 50,917 feet (15,536 m) long. C rail, located at the north end of the track facility, is 20,379 feet (6,212 m) long. A and B rails are spaced 84 inches (213 cm), center to center while C rail is spaced 26.3 inches (66.8 cm) to the east of B rail. Despite the dull appearance of the setup, the tracks constitute the straightest system of track ever laid. Rails A, B, and C are continuously welded and pre-stressed to be under tension at temperatures below 140 °F (60 °C).

Within the HHSTT infrastructure, there is a 6,000-foot (1,829 m) rain field that is used to study the erosive effects caused by the impact of raindrops on material samples or components of weapon systems carried on rocket sleds. The rainfield system has been characterized as droplet size distribution and can simulate various combinations of rain environments from light rain to heavy rain, and produce flight conditions ranging from subsonic to hypersonic. This capability is used both for material development (usually involving systematic testing of physical samples) and for qualifying flight hardware.

A separate system is currently under construction to support magnetic levitation, or Maglev, sled development. The reason for this system is to produce flight-like vibration environments that can not be achieved on the main steel rail track. This system performed its first test in 2012 and continues to be operational.

Other facilities at the HHSTT include fabrication shops, project management and engineering buildings, munitions storage buildings, and heavy equipment staging areas. Via


Data Collection

Electronic data, which include test timing, vehicle position, velocity, and acceleration, are routinely collected at the HHSTT. These data are captured by various means, including Doppler radar, optical beam interrupter blades, break wire installations and magnetic sensors, and a wide variety of component sensors to collect specialized data such as acceleration forces, strain, temperature, etc.

The data are collected with a variety of onboard data acquisition systems or telemetered for post-test analysis. Additionally, world-class technical imagery, including high-speed digital images, is available for customers to examine the status of their payloads. Track personnel use the same imagery to determine the situation of the sled vehicle during tests. All data can be post-processed and merged using a standard time reference to verify the accuracy of the data and to produce a unified data product.

Optical imagery is captured with high-speed digital cameras.
Local meteorological data (e.g., temperature and barometric pressure) are also collected for each test for the calculation of Mach number or Knots Equivalent Air Speed as desired by the test customer. Via 


Here a video from ‘You Tube’ will give you an idea the way HHSTT works.

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