By the time the ball drops in Times Square, WSMR's White Sands Test Center will have racked up 5,489 missions for the year ending Dec. 31.
"We've been busy," said WSTC Commander Col. Eric C. Rannow. "But the country needs reliable, cutting-edge technology that allows our military to defeat any adversary, anytime, anywhere. No place on Earth can test those systems like White Sands."
Included in the year-end numbers are 293 "hot" test events. A hot test means WSTC scientists, engineers and technicians fired a missile or rocket or some other thing that flies. Additionally, the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility conducted 146 laser tests. The U.S. Air Force sponsored 1,614 training missions over the range's 3,200 square miles of airspace, 458 of those involving F-16 fighter jets.
One of WSTC's biggest jobs is making sure weapons old, experimental and newly-fielded actually work in all of the conditions where American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines may use them. A lot of that falls on the Center's Survivability and Vulnerability Directorate. Over the past 12 months, SV ran 465 events involving some sort of nuclear environment. It also tested more than 80 individual parts to see how they stood up to various conditions, did 50 electromagnetic assessments and 98 environmental tests in conditions like extreme heat, cold and vibration.
WSTC also takes its show on the road. Missions have included testing in the Pacific and in Europe. Much of the Center's equipment like telemetry, frequency monitoring, meteorology, communications and flight safety can relocate to far-flung test locations when needed.
With WSTC's more than 800 test employees and contractors working at such a pace, the Center schedules an annual shutdown, which this year runs Dec. 18 through Jan. 5, 2018.
"It's an opportunity to do needed maintenance and upgrades to the system and afford employees the opportunity to spend time with family," said WSMR acting Director of Range Operations Benny Favela.
Cox Range Control Center will do Uninterruptible Power Supply and generator load testing, and Favela said they will also test the building's smoke alarms.
White Sands Missile Range, DoD's largest, fully-instrumented, open air range, provides America's Armed Forces, allies, partners, and defense technology innovators with the world's premiere research, development, test, evaluation, experimentation, and training facilities to ensure our nation's defense readiness.