By Sue Major Holmes

Thursday, October 27, 2016

NOVA award winner

Sandia B61-12 team wins Lockheed Martin award for technical excellence

SPIN ROCKET MOTORS engage as a B61-12 bomb drops to the ground during one of three successful flight tests last year. (Photo courtesy of the B61-12 team)

Sandia’s B61-12 Demonstration Unit Flight Test Team has won a 2016 NOVA award, Lockheed Martin’s highest honor.

The award recognized the team “for technical excellence demonstrated through successful execution of three B61-12 F-15E flight tests,” according to the citation. The NOVA award, created in 1995, recognizes stellar employee achievements.

Flight tests completed last year were a significant accomplishment, demonstrating early design robustness in the B61-12 War Reserve and Joint Test Assembly designs.

Lee Post, Sandia’s test lead for the B61-12 flight tests, accepted the award on behalf of the team at the Labs’ annual Employee Recognition Award (ERA) dinner Aug. 27. Sandia’s executive leadership looks at the ERA winners and nominates some for NOVA awards.

Nominees are forwarded to Lockheed Martin Space Systems and later to Lockheed Martin headquarters, where the winner is announced.

Lee says the 25-member ERA team represents contributions from countless people all across Sandia. “We could have had 200, 300, 400 people on that ERA. Everyone contributed so much,” Lee says.

“We were the ones leading the charge, if you will, but it was the dedicated people up and down the line who contributed in so many ways to the common goal of a flight test.”

The flight tests involved more than a dozen organizations, including Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Boeing Corporation. About half of the organizations were from the Air Force, Lee says. “Every organization had specific goals for what their organization wanted out of each flight test.

The principal objective of the test team is to try to achieve as many of the goals as we can for each test,” he says. “Negotiation between all the organizations is a key component of any team, while ensuring the tests always achieve their primary objectives.”

Timing was another factor. Every organization provides hardware, software, or some other component, and delays always occur along the way. Lee says that meant working through the timelines for delivery of each piece of hardware, the test unit assembly, pre-testing, and availability of test equipment, aircraft, and the test range.

After all the work, “every time a test unit is released from an aircraft, watching it perform as planned, seeing the spin rocket motor function and impacting in the target area is very exciting,” he says. “It’s the culmination of a huge amount of work for everyone.”

Team members were a little shocked when they first heard about the NOVA award, Lee says. “Once the surprise wore off a little and the team realized the magnitude of this award, they were very proud of the accomplishment and appreciative of the recognition.”