Sandia National Laboratories
Aerial Cable Site
Burn Site
Drop Tower
Mechanical Shock

Mobile Laser Tracker

Rocket Sled Track
Thermal Test Complex
Water Impact
Visitor Information


Sandia National Laboratories' Rocket Sled Track Facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, provides a controlled environment for high-velocity impact, aerodynamic, acceleration, and related testing of small and large test items.

Tests can be designed to simulate unique scenarios and to provide the maximum data from each test. The facility provides a 10,000-foot track for testing items at very high speeds and a 2,000-foot railroad gauge track for testing very large items. The combination of ingenuity, experience, and instrumentation available at this facility makes it unique for research, test, and evaluation purposes.

Click the image below to watch the B61 Forward Ballistic Test video.

B61 Forward Ballistics video

plane1 plane6

Get the Flash Player to see this player.


The Rocket Sled Track incorporates exceptional instrumentation capabilities, including telemetry, hardened on-board data recorders, hardwired data acquisition systems, high speed video, flash x-ray, and film cameras. These systems gather data from a variety of instruments and transducers. Time-space-position information (TSPI) systems acquired data up to 1kHz with a 1 ft accuracy. Data acquisition systems are capable of acquiring data at sample rates up to 1MHz.


Aerial view of 10,000 foot sled track.

Reverse Ballistic Testing

Traditional sled tests accelerate a test item attached to a rocket sled into a stationary target. This method typically limits the data acquisition capabilities due to the use of on-board data recorders. A reverse ballistic test, pioneered at the Rocket Sled Track, accelerates the target into a stationary test item. This method allows recording of many hardwired channels of data at high-frequencies.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Parachute Testing

The Rocket Sled Track includes testing parachutes for weapons, aircraft, and space vehicles using towers and ejector sleds. TSPI data can be gathered via telemetry and high-speed photography. The large ejector sled capability includes launching test items weighing up to 2,400 pounds to 250 feet of altitude at speeds up to Mach 1.5. The small ejector sled capability includes launching test items weighing up to 100 pounds as high as 200 feet at speeds approaching Mach 3.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Free-Flight Rocket Testing

The use of small free-flight rockets allows the delivery of payloads and munitions to altitudes and velocities not attainable using ejector sleds. The use of telemetry, high-speed video, and film coverage yield real-time trajectory data.

Acceleration Testing

The relationship between acceleration, velocity, and distance traveled by a test item can be simulated in a variety of ways. Positive and negative acceleration levels up to 1000's of g's are possible.

Aerodynamics Testing

Aerodynamic characteristics—as they relate to a test item's shape, acceleration, velocity, and distance traveled—can be evaluated in a variety of ways depending on evaluation goals. Onboard cameras and data recording systems are routinely used for this type of application.


Other Capabilities

The Rocket Sled Facility is also certified to handle:

  • Items containing radioactive components

  • Detonation of up to 250 pounds of high explosives

  • Items classified to Top Secret
Click here to view larger version of image.


Get the Flash Player to see this player.
Impact test at the 2000 foot sled track.


Additional Information

The Rocket Sled Track is close to Sandia's other testing sites and maintains a variety of data/instrumentation equipment. For shipping and travel purposes, the sites are conveniently located near Albuquerque International Airport and two interstate highways. Sandia can perform the complete tests from theoretical model development to execution and data analysis.

The Rocket Sled Track can be configured to meet a variety of unusual or unique customer needs and testing criteria.

Top of page


Steven Samuels
(505) 284-3371

Jason Petti
(505) 284-8574