Kauai Test Facility

Kauai photo

The Kauai Test Facility (KTF) is a rocket launch range in Hawaii operated by Sandia for the Department of Energy. The facilities and personnel support a variety of sounding-rocket missions, including weapons research and development; operational training, test, and evaluation; and technology development. To ensure maximum use of the facilities, Sandia conducts launch projects for other organizations or government agencies on a noninterference basis. These projects are cost-reimbursable to the DOE.

KTF provides a high-quality integrated facility for conducting a wide range of test operations. Our team conducts experiments in the upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and space. These experiments support materials research, components development, advanced reentry-vehicle technologies, water entry-and-recovery systems, missile defense testing, and on-board sensor research-and-development testing. Resources at KTF are available for assembling, testing, and launching uplink commands; receiving telemetry; and recovering instrumented rockets, rocket payloads, and remote air- and ship-borne instrumentation platforms.

KTF is a tenant of the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, located on the westernmost extension of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. This location offers excellent weather conditions for preparation and flight activities, and is ideal for many U.S. rocket-borne experiments. The facility provides flight safety, radar tracking, world time reference, telemetry reception, communication, and weather data.

Facilities, operations, and capabilities

KTF offers the following facilities and equipment:

  • Sandia's immense technical-support infrastructure
  • A broad, unrestricted, and unpopulated ocean impact area
  • Secure, climate-controlled assembly areas
  • An extensive Hawaii-wide radio communication system
  • A vertical launch stool with a missile service tower
  • A launch operations building, a central computing facility, and four assembly buildings
  • A ME-16 mobile tracking telescope
  • An extensive array of still and high-speed documentation photometrics
  • Two launch fields with 20K- and 7.5K-rail launchers

KTF provides the following location-enabled operations:

  • Joint experiments with launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base or orbiting objects
  • Experiments on phenomena occurring in the upper atmosphere and in space over the mid-Pacific
  • High-velocity water impact and underwater trajectory experiments
  • Multiple and simultaneous launches
  • Real-time trajectory data receipt, processing, and display
  • In-flight telemetry data receipt, processing, recording, and display
  • Integrated prelaunch activities and range support scheduling

KTF supports launch operations in the following ways:

  • Payload buildup, checkout, and control
  • Rocket motor processing and checkout
  • Weather data collection and analysis
  • Coordination of security needs and off-site instrumentation and activities
  • Range safety support and computer-controlled countdown
  • Payload control via an ultrahigh-frequency command transmission system
  • Documentation photography (stills, video, and high-speed film)
  • Interrange and intrarange communications
  • Quick-look data playback and magnetic-tape duplication