What is Rocket sled?
A rocket sled is a test platform that slides along a set of rails, propelled by rockets.
As its name implies, a rocket sled does not use wheels. Instead, it has sliding pads, called “slippers”, which are curved around the head of the rails to prevent the sled from flying off the track.
The rail cross-section profile is that of a Vignoles rail, commonly used for railroads.
A rocket sled holds the land-based speed record for a vehicle, at Mach 8.5.
Dr. John Paul Stapp earned the title “the fastest man on Earth” when he rode the Sonic Wind I rocket-propelled sled at the Holloman High-Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on December 10, 1954, to a land speed record of 632 mph in five seconds. He sustained the greatest recorded G-forces endured by man, decelerating in 1.4 seconds, which equaled 46.2 Gs, more than anyone had previously undergone.
More than 50 years later, the Holloman High-Speed Test Track at Holloman still exists.
Lt. Col. Jason Vap, commander of the 846th Test Squadron at Holloman AFB was the last human to ride the track and now egress missions use highly instrumented mannequins to look at what loads are and then determine whether or not aircrew survivability was achieved.
Usage of Rocket sled?
A rocket sled is reported to have been used in the closing days of World War II by the Germans to launch a winged A4b strategic rocket from an underground tunnel on March 16, 1945.
Rocket sleds were used extensively early in the Cold War to accelerate equipment considered too experimental (hazardous) for testing directly in piloted aircraft. The equipment to be tested under high acceleration or high airspeed conditions was installed along with appropriate instrumentation, data recording and telemetry equipment on the sled. The sled was then accelerated according to the experiment’s design requirements for data collection along with a length of isolated, precisely level and straight test track.
Testing ejection seat systems and technology prior to their use in experimental or operational aircraft was a common application of the rocket sled at Holloman Air Force Base. Perhaps the most famous, the tracks at Edwards Air Force Base were used to test missiles, supersonic ejection seats, aircraft shapes and the effects of acceleration and deceleration on humans. 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.
In addition, Unmanned rocket sleds continue to be used to test missile components without requiring costly live missile launches.
A world speed record of Mach 8.5 was achieved by a four-stage rocket sled at Holloman Air Force Base on April 30, 2003, the highest speed ever attained by a land vehicle.
Murphy’s law first received public attention during a press conference about rocket sled testing
Rocket Sled Impact Test In Slow-Motion
To ensure the safety, security, and reliability of the United States Nuclear Weapon Stockpile, Sandia National Laboratories conducts extensive modeling and full-scale testing.
This video shows one of the many tests Sandia conducts, using an inert unit, to ensure our Nation’s nuclear weapons are safe, secure, and reliable.
Watch the test events as they unfold through high-speed photography in slow motion and discover how sensors, gauges, and quantitative high-speed imaging systems provide data for the supercomputer models.