News & News Archive
WSRDs Signs Seven-Year Contract with Spaceport America, April 19, 2021
White Sands Research and Developers, LLC (WSRDs) signed a seven-year framework agreement with the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to conduct launch operations at the Vertical Launch Area of Spaceport America. WSRDs has a long history with the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, even predating the construction of the Spaceport. This agreement further enhances a long-standing and positive relationship between WSRDs and NMSA.
Twenty-Three Years, January 1, 2021
Today marks the beginning of our 23rd calendar year in business.
Crossbow Rail Passes First Tests, September 27, 2020 (updated October 7 & 26)
The articulation hardware and prime movers of WSRDs' new Crossbow launch rail were tested. The servos and hardware performed well, paving the way for a fully automated system not too far down the road. The rail has since been assembled, mounted, and raised. Power, lighting, cameras, and instrumentation are now being added.
Seeing is Believing, July 15, 2020 (updated September 27)
One needs quality meteorological instrumentation to produce quality data; but a little visualization can add a lot of clarity when decisions have to be made. We have been perfecting our meteorological sounding and visualization capabilities through the summer and fall and are very pleased with the results. We have had a banner year serving new customers and putting our ideas to the test.
Second Mustang, July 8, 2020
We now have a second workhorse in the stable.
Happy 244 USA! July 4, 2020
May our country celebrate many more!
Mustang 6C Nearing Final Assembly, June 16, 2020
The Mustang 6C is upping the game with a new separation & recovery module, and new motor mount and fin systems. These all add up to a lighter airframe, which is great because every pound shed makes another pound available for payload.
Historic Flight, May 1, 2020
Our congratulations go to Virgin Galactic on their historic flight at Spaceport America. Keep up the good fight!
Keeping Your WiTS™ About You, April 16, 2020
Planning a mission to run like clockwork is a tedious, labor-intensive process. Using a spreadsheet may seem like a good choice until you add more mission elements and even minor changes scramble timelines; -just imagine when those changes happen last-minute. That is why WSRDs is creating the Wireless Timeline Synchronizer (WiTS™). WiTS™ will streamline work pre- to post-mission. It starts by slashing man-weeks off of checklist development; and as the mission comes into focus, changes can be made without worry. During operations, WiTS™ lets the crew do their jobs with less radio chatter and pen-fumbling. Automatic logging streamlines the Launch Director’s job and takes the first post-mission steps. With clear timelines, after-action reports are easy and the next missions' timelines are that much better. Mission planning is usually much more labor than love. WiTS™ is changing that relationship.
Hunkering Down, March 27, 2020
Like others, we have been greatly affected by the pandemic; however, it doesn't mean we have gone dark. Our distributed business model has allowed us to make progress in areas such as our new Crossbow launch rail and some rocket subsystems. When the country opens back up, we will be ready to go. Hope to see you all soon!
It Just Got Quieter, March 15, 2020
We have just put into service a freshly minted, on-site, mass-properties balance, which relegates two more trajectory-analysis dispersion-influences to the noise level bin. All of our upcoming launches will now get last-minute mass and center of mass measurements before the rockets get loaded onto the launch rail. This is just one more way in which we demonstrate our commitment to making the Mustang rocket the best rocket test platform in the business.
Stay Accurate My Friends with AeroACES "Dos Equis", February 2, 2020
Upgraded to versions 10 of both the OS and visualization suite, AeroACES-XX is here to put rockets on target. Compiled on the latest compiler and running on a high-end laptop, speed benchmarks are looking very good. Stayed tuned, my friends!
Capitol Building, Santa Fe, January 30, 2020
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that White Sands Research and Developers, LLC (WSRDs) will become a Spaceport America Customer. Dr. Paul T. Jaramillo, who attended the event, said: "I want to express my thanks to Gov. Lujan Grisham for her enthusiasm and support of the Aerospace Sector in New Mexico. For WSRDs, this represents a major step forward as we stand up our unique, scalable, suborbital test capability featuring a range of rocket test platforms to provide a path to progress customer R&D from early design hardware to mission-ready implementations." CEO Dr. Christina Lohn added, "I also want to thank Spaceport America's CEO, Dan Hicks, for his tireless efforts to expand the Spaceport's infrastructure and technology base. WSRDs' launch system has supported seven suborbital rocket tests to date, including three operations in 2019 with two more already secured for 2020. We see our company as New Mexico's 'Home Team' in the burgeoning commercial spaceflight arena and look forward to some exciting plays ahead."
Happy New Year, January 1, 2020
We wish you all the best in this newly minted year. May the decade ahead bring us all success, prosperity, health, and happiness; and may our lives and efforts inspire those around us.
Mustang 6C Go-Ahead, July 16, 2019
Today marks the go-ahead decision to build the Mustang 6C. We look forward to all that it entails, and hopefully, to a successful launch a few months down the road.
Twentieth Year Completed; June 30, 2019
The end of the business day on June 30th marked the completion of our twentieth year in business. We look forward to the years ahead as we assist our customers in achieving their business, scientific, and R&D goals. We also look forward to exploring new technical and business frontiers, building upon our current relationships, and creating new alliances to achieve even greater goals. Four days from now also marks the 243 anniversary of our country's birth. Our great nation bestows upon us the freedoms that make it possible to be creative explorers; and the sacrifices that so many have made throughout our history to keep it that way, are not lost upon us. Happy Birthday USA!
Operation Space, Inc., Launches Two Rockets; June 1, 2019
WSRDs congratulates Operation Space, Inc. (OSI), for their successful launch operations conducted at Spaceport America between May 29 and June 1. The OSI team came together at Spaceport America from several locations across the country, including strong contingents from West Point and Princeton. Onsite, the team worked at an impressive pace to prepare a launch site and ready two sounding rockets for launch. Organized and led by CEO Josh Farahzad, OSI conducted back-to-back launches on consecutive days. The 215 lb, two-stage rockets were designed by CTO Saad Mirza with the capability of exceeding the Karman Line by 25km. The Karman Line is the internationally recognized boundary of space at 100km above mean sea level. Despite the many challenges of launching at the remote desert location, they succeeded in launching each of the rockets early in the launch window allotted by the Federal Aviation Administration and at a time when the meteorological conditions remained favorable. The picture to the right shows second stage ignition. The launches received national attention in the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets. Again, our hats are off to Josh, Saad, and the rest of the OSI team who helped to make it happen!
Mustang 6BX Roars & Soars; April 13, 2019
With a roaring sound generated by over 700 lbf of thrust, the Mustang 6BX galloped to an apogee of approximately 23,500 ft MSL and Mach 1.2 after a gorgeous launch. A little heavier than the Mustang 6B, the 6BX mission carried additional paraphernalia as it was the first Mustang mission designed around an eXperiment. The 6BX flew with an all-aluminum nose-tip that formed the business end of an innovative airspeed and angle-of-attack sensor that was designed and built by New Mexico Tech (NMT) students. Other modifications were made to the rocket to mechanically and operationally isolate the payload section from the rest of the rocket.
As per SOP, the launch crew showed up on site at 3:15AM, followed 15 minutes later by the rocket team. The Mustang 6BX was the third Mustang rocket to fly, following the 6A and 6B; and with a shape designed to reach space, the Mustang flew straight and true. We are proud not only of the performance of the rocket, but also of our entire ground operation. Having taken continual process improvement to heart over the past five years, the operation proceeds like clockwork and responds to the unforeseen with confidence.
Speaking of heart, at the center of our preparations, mission conduct, and post-flight analysis, is our software. AeroACES-RT, the realtime version of AeroACES®, performed without the slightest glitch, greatly streamlining the mission assurance aspect of the mission. The software's rapid visualization capabilities greatly enhanced our ability to monitor the changing post-frontal weather that went through the area, immediately visualize the effects on the Mustang trajectory, and adjust our firing solution accordingly.
Finally, like all previous Mustang missions, the Mustang-6BX mission was commemorated with a mission patch; and like the other patches, it was designed by Chip and Lenora Wyly of Central Parlour. The patch was the first of the series to include the distinctive shape of the Mustang hardware in its presentation. As the mission was the first mission designed to conduct an experiment and not simply to prove the rocket could fly, the design of the patch signifies the Mustang's transition from a mythical Pegasus to a real workhorse.
AeroACES-RT IOC, March 31, 2019
Today marks the initial operational capabilities (IOC) of AeroACES-7000, and specifically, the AeroACES-RT version, which puts our realtime meteorology and trajectory analysis tools into our visualization environment. From one dialogue box, we can create an atmospheric profile to over 100,000 ft, visualize it, run trajectories through it, and see where the rocket can go under varying flight scenarios.
An examination of the wind profile to the right, taken from an actual mission day, explains the importance of combining high-end meteorology with wind-sensitive flight simulation. A low level jet at the bottom of the basin (black) ran almost due south, reversing literally 180 degrees into an up-valley flow (red & orange) starting at about 150 ft AGL. A few hundred feet later, the flow starts a twist towards the west, and after turning almost 270 degrees (yellow & green), the flow ends up going east at around 4000 ft AGL.
You can be absolutely sure that unguided rockets see and respond to such atmospheric conditions. Therefore, missions with unguided rockets must likewise be able to see such conditions with high-end meteorology and respond to the conditions with high-end, wind-sensitive flight simulation. We had both and accurately predicted the trajectory. If you don't have the aforementioned combined capability, where your rocket lands will be little more than a crap shoot.
AeroACES-RT is built upon a software architecture and a code base that has been tested and hardened through twenty years of development and real-world flight analysis. It will make its debut at our upcoming Mustang 6BX rocket launch.
AeroACES® Realtime, March 2, 2019
The AeroACES-RT realtime program is being built on our newly minted ACES-7 software architecture. AeroACES-RT will bring the full analytical power of AeroACES® directly into the visualization environment, emphasizing continuous meteorological and trajectory monitoring.
Mustang 6BX Launch Campaign; February 18, 2019
Preparations for the Mustang 6BX launch scheduled for April have begun in earnest. It will be the third launch attempt of the unique and highly capable Mustang scalable rocket design. The Mustang 6BX rocket is building on the many successes of the Mustang 6A and Mustang 6B; in fact the 6BX will be flying a good portion of the hardware that flew in 2017 as part of the 6A and continued on as part of the 6B, so re-usability is not just a splash word with us: it's integral to our design. Our launch system, which includes our entire ground operation, is now in its 5th operational year and has matured tremendously since supporting its first launch in 2015.
Happy New Year!; January 1, 2019
From all of us here at White Sands Research and Developers, we want to wish you and yours all the best in the coming year.
Mustang 6BX; October 19, 2018
The Mustang 6BX is being designed as an experimental platform to test new manufacturing techniques and to develop flight-test instrumentation. Building off of the successful Mustang 6B, The Mustang 6BX will feature a combined airspeed and angle-of-attack sensor, and new static pressure measurements next to the rocket skin to eliminate the lag in measuring static atmospheric pressure. The former will provide a check against the speed derived from integrating accelerometer data, while the latter will improve correlation to realtime meteorological measurements, thereby, improving measurement of flight apogee.
IMTS - Chicago 2018; September 10-15, 2018
The Mustang 6B rocket was on display at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) between September 10 - 15, 2018. According to www.imts.com, the show broke registration records at over 129,000 registrants. Our thanks go to CarveSmart www.carvesmart.com for hosting our eye catching Mustang rocket at their booth and to Nico Seamons, who went all out to ensure the rocket's safe transport, attended to the rocket during the event, and provided the pics.
Pure Gold; August 7, 2018
WSRDs work with New Mexico Tech is featured in the Summer 2018 installment of the Alumni Newsletter, The Gold Pan. In the feature article by Lynn Arthur, "Rocket Launch Opens New Horizons," Lynn describes the many benefits that the collaborative effort brings to the university, the students, and to WSRDs. Great Job Lynn!
Business Milestone; June 30, 2018
Today marks the first day of our 20th year in business.
Mustang 6C; June 6, 2018
Design of the Mustang 6C is underway. While building on the strengths of its predecessors, the new Mustang will be lighter, simpler, and modular, while at the same time, it will double the motor options of the Mustang 6B. The changes will help the Mustang become the "workhorse" it was always meant to be.
Mustang 6B Goes Realtime; April 15, 2018
In crystal clear skies over Spaceport America, the Mustang 6B flew a near perfect mission. After sand blasting winds during mission setup day, and a repeat on mission dress rehearsal day, the first launch attempt on Saturday encountered an igniter failure. After MacGyvering a second attempt that didn't quite reach the mark, Dr. Jaramillo called a mission scrub due to increasing winds. This gave the team time to prepare a better solution for the next day. Indeed, the team needed both the rest and the time to reassess. On Sunday morning, the pace was quick, but deliberate, and every single piece of the operation fell exactly into place.
Precisely as planned, the Mustang 6B galloped into a clear blue sky at 7:05 AM. Recovery occurred shortly thereafter.
The mission was successful on so many fronts, it is difficult to enumerate all successes in a short news blip. For the New Mexico Tech students, it was the tallest, fattest, heaviest, most powerful, fastest, highest flying, and most technically advanced rocket they had flown to date on a nominal trajectory.
For WSRDs, it represented the culmination of a long effort, not only related to the rocket, but in creating the totality of a launch capability. A launch capability includes not only the rocket, but many subsystems from meteorological instrumentation to realtime software, as well as dozens of SOPs to accomplish various tasks.
One particular milestone was the debut of our AeroACES-6000 software under field conditions. AeroACES-6000 consolidates all of the flight safety, meteorology, and trajectory analyses we use in realtime, and in general, links our analytical processes from mission planning, through realtime and post flight analysis. AeroACES-6000 performed flawlessly across all mission days, and in fact, predicted the maximum velocity of the Mustang 6B to within 0.3% of that recorded by the onboard avionics. For those who witnessed the comparison on site, the 4 ft/s difference felt like the Babe calling his shot.
Mustang 6B; March 29, 2018
The Mustang 6B began final assembly and fit testing today. The Mustang 6B is slightly longer than its predecessor, at almost 11 ft, and offers a more generous payload volume.
AeroACES-6000 IOC; March 26, 2018
Today marked initial operational capabilities (IOC) of AeroACES-6000, which has consolidated all of our meteorological, flight safety, and trajectory analysis tools into one product. AeroACES-6000 will make its realtime debut at our upcoming Mustang 6B rocket launch.
SBA Ignite Tour: Dr. Lohn meets SBA Administrator; March 12, 2018
Dr. Christina Lohn, WSRDs CEO was invited to meet Madam Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator in a round-table discussion as part of the SBA Ignite Tour. Madam McMahon was appointed by President Trump and is a member of his cabinet. Dr. Lohn was able to speak directly with Madam McMahon regarding the long-term decline in the business environment for small high-tech businesses, and especially micro businesses. The vast majority of businesses start out as micro-businesses so a clear growth path is essential to the continued long-term health and prosperity of American commerce. Dr. Lohn not only explained the issues that small- and micro-businesses face, but offered concrete and actionable recommendations to improve the situation.
Dr. Lohn said of her meeting with Madam McMahon that we are very fortunate to have the SBA led by a strong and successful business woman, a woman who has first-hand knowledge of many of the challenges facing entrepreneurs. The fact that Madam McMahon has taken it upon herself to visit all 68 SBA district offices across the country expressly for the purpose of hearing directly from business owners is not only commendable, but shows that she is serious and proactive about improving the environment for small and micro businesses. Dr. Lohn added, “That’s how I would do it: get out of the Washington bubble and find out what is really happening on the ground. I think she will be successful.” -P.T. Jaramillo
Mustang 6B Begins to Takes Shape; January 19, 2018
Work is underway on the Mustang 6B, which is scheduled for flight this Spring. Among the upgrades, the new Mustang will allow customers to take advantage of nine different thrust profiles, providing even more test options in what is quickly becoming the most user-friendly sRLV test platform around.
AeroACES-6000 Architecture; January 8, 2018
The final push to take AeroACES-5 into the ACES-6 architectural standard has begun. When complete, all software will be under one architecture, which is the final prerequisite to the start of the next product growth phase.
ACES-6 Internal Code Standard; December 22, 2017
AeroACES-5, which contains the core trajectory capabilities, was brought into the ACES-6 internal coding standard. This is the first step in upgrading it to the ACES-6 architecture.
Launch Operations at Peak Performance; November 13, 2017
Our after action review of our November 4 launch indicated that all elements functioned at superior levels. To the element, all areas saw improvement over previous operations, operations which were already widely recognized for professionalism and efficiency. Our lean systems engineering approach and our dedication to continual process improvement is why we can take an already very smooth and efficient operation, by any standard, to an even higher level.
The Mustang Debut; November 4, 2017
At 0735 MST, the Mustang 6A, a 6-inch diameter by 10-foot long rocket cooperatively designed and built by WSRDs and the New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, made its maiden flight. Among several highly-innovative subsystems, the rocket incorporated non-pyrotechnic separation and recovery systems that performed as designed, permitting intact recovery of its entire payload system. Work on the Mustang 6B is already proceeding in earnest and is expected to fly next April. The Mustang 6B will be slightly longer, yet lighter and will carry scientific payloads that require testing in high-G environments.
Making the Best even Better; October 1, 2017
We have been instituting system wide improvements to our unguided rocket targeting system all the way from early vehicle analysis to operations. Upgrades include streamlined analytical processes that produce high fidelity flight simulation models and new meteorological methods that create accurate profiles of the atmosphere in realtime. Without good atmospheric profiles coupled to flight simulators that are sensitive to the atmosphere, there is little chance of hitting a planned impact point, regardless of the quality of other aspects of the system. Simply stated, accurate targeting is a system's level capability, which is why our targeting system starts early in mission planning with state-of-the-art flight modeling and performs in the field with quality software, instrumentation, and processes. To put it bluntly, any other approach will miss the mark.
SkyMET™ Advances; July 21, 2017
We have prototyped new capabilities in realtime visualization. Specifically, we wanted to visualize, in three dimensions, the complex wind fields we have encountered during launch and airfield operations. In addition to visualizing the wind, we also wanted to visualize our targeting system's response to these wind fields. Together, these capabilities allow us to see at a glance, the exact effects of changing wind conditions on our expected impact point during a countdown. These are just the first steps, but we are already quite pleased. We will be deploying this system for our next launch, along with new MET and targeting algorithms.
Agile Launch Facility; April 9, 2016
WSRDs supported another successful suborbital launch on April 9th, extending the company's reach and depth in the launch service arena. Our goal is to create a seamless set of integrated software, hardware and operational capabilities that allow our customers' ideas to smoothly transition and mature from early concept to physical implementation in a test environment. This naturally leads to new cycles of development and concept improvement. This year WSRDs' suborbital space launch ground operation saw streamlining and maturation across the board, from software and hardware to our systems' engineering processes.
Memorandum of Understanding; March 4, 2016
WSRDs and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology signed a Memorandum of Understanding that promotes mutual educational, scientific and commercial interests in the areas of spaceflight, space exploration, unmanned aerial systems and aerospace engineering technologies in general.
Emerging Leaders; September 30, 2015
WSRDs' Dr. Lohn, CEO and Managing Member, graduated from the Small Business Association (SBA) Emerging Leaders Initiative. The class is a six-month program that prepares the business executive to take the business to the next growth level. The curriculum teaches self and business assessment, finance, marketing and resources which include government contracting. The material presented in these modules is an integral part of the Strategic Growth Action Plan that the participants prepared and presented as one of the requirements for graduation.
Aerodynamic Services just got Better; May 21, 2015
WSRDs took delivery of a unique, research-grade wind tunnel. It is ideally suited for commercial and research test opportunities in wind energy, environmental work, the automotive industry and aerospace applications. Through a carefully engineered design, it is highly versatile and sits in an economic sweet spot allowing very unique arrangements and projects at affordable prices.
8(a) Graduation Day; May 9, 2015
WSRDs graduated from the Small Business Association's 8(a) program. The program lasted nine years with annual re-certification.
Spaceport Recognition; May 1, 2015
Another WSRDs employee has earned the "Spaceport America Crew Member Recognition Award for Outstanding Service." Mr. William T. Shelton, II is the Program Manager of Space Operations and has spearheaded all aspects of airfield planning and operations at the Spaceport. His dedicated work in the lead up to and during the Valentine's Day Fly-In was instrumental in making the event a complete success. The accolade is well deserved.
SkyMET™ Unveiled; April 18, 2015
WSRDs supported a very successful launch event and at the same time, debuted its SkyMET™ realtime meteorological capability. The SkyMET™ system starts with software developed under the ACES architecture - the same architecture and code base used to build our AeroACES® trajectory modeling and simulation tool. It integrates our meteorological instrumentation (SODAR and RAOB) and includes an assortment of ancillary support equipment. SkyMET™ also ingests meteorological data from other sources, e.g., internet, to provide the best atmospheric profile possible at launch time. The SkyMET™ system is mobile; designed and built for remote, day/night operations, because that is where and how rockets tend to be launched.
Valentine's Day Event; February 14, 2015
WSRDs supported a unique event at Spaceport America with air and ground management. Follow the link to read and see the story.
More MET Equipment; November 28, 2014
WSRDs took delivery of a RAOB unit signifying completion of another milestone in our strategic plan. Together with SODAR, RAOB allows us to measure realtime atmospheric profiles from the near boundary layer to well beyond 50,000 ft. These acquisitions solidify our commitment to providing a comprehensive set of tools for spaceport operations.
Spaceport Recognition; November 11, 2014
During a Veteran's Day Celebration at Spaceport America, Dr. Jaramillo was presented the "Spaceport America Crew Member Recognition Award for Outstanding Service."
Fifteen Years in Business; June 30, 2014
WSRDs celebrated its fifteen year anniversary. We have enjoyed serving our customers and are looking forward to the next fifteen.
Meteorological Equipment; December 12, 2013
WSRDs took delivery of a SODAR unit and has begun developing new software capabilities to seamlessly merge these data with other meteorological data sources and into our real-time simulation. We expect to add other meteorological instrumentation, software and capabilities in the future.
Training; October 16, 2013
Several WSRDs employees have successfully completed courses in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Incident Command System (ICS). This is part of a broader company-wide focus on operational preparedness and individual development. Employees are also engaged in taking courses from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) while others are also pursuing radiotelephone licenses from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Airfield Operations (From the Spaceport America June 2013 Newsletter); May 17, 2013
NMSA and Virgin Galactic hosted a press junket at Spaceport America to promote the movie "After Earth." In conjunction with this event, the spaceport technical team supported 8 operations of fixed-wing airplanes and 32 operations of helicopters. This event validated our airfield operations procedures and coordination among support elements.
ISO-9001 Training; May 10, 2013
Dr. Lohn earned a Certificate of Recognition for successfully completing ISO-9001:2008 training. The course, sponsored by the New Mexico Economic Development Department, took place in Albuquerque over several months.
WSRDs Wins Space Operations Services Contract; March 28, 2012
The Board of Directors of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) approved the award of the Space Operations Services Contract for Spaceport America to White Sands Research and Developers, LLC. WSRDs will provide policy and procedure development, support for airfield control, horizontal and vertical launch operations, flight safety and launch-site licensing preparation.
WSRDs Wins Space Operations Services Contract; March 28, 2012
The Board of Directors of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) approved the award of the Space Operations Services Contract for Spaceport America to White Sands Research and Developers, LLC. WSRDs will provide policy and procedure development, support for airfield control, horizontal and vertical launch operations, flight safety and launch-site licensing preparation.
Our Vision is 20-10; March 26, 2011
We've taken our first step into the world of 3-D visualization. Though not always needed for analytical work, 3-D visuals have a way of providing a little sizzle. This is only the first modest step, but represents a major change in our product development processes.
Federal Aviation Administration Puts Center of Excellence in NM; August 18, 2010
New Mexico State University (NMSU) has won a National Competition from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to create the Nation's first Center of Excellence (COE) in Commercial Space Transportation (CST). WSRDs is a team member on the winning proposal and we are looking forward to playing our role in laying the groundwork for the technologies that will help bring space transportation down to earth.
Recognized by NMSU; February 1, 2010
White Sands Research and Developers, LLC, founders were recognized in New Mexico State University's "Research & Resources" Spring 2010 edition for their work in bringing Aerospace Engineering to New Mexico.
In the article, Mark Cramer reported that 2009 brought in 60 new Freshman declaring an Aerospace Engineering major. Crystal Lay, Director of Aerospace and Special Programs, is quoted as saying: "Civil, Mechanical and Electrical have long been the 'big three' engineering programs on campus. Aerospace is already right up there with them."
Mark reports that an agreement with Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahau (UCAH) will bring in 40 to 50 additional students per year when the program is fully developed. According to Dr. Thomas Burton, Head of the Mechanical and Aerospace Department, graduate level programs (MS & PhD) are moving through the approval process and the department should see the first graduate-level classes offered in the Fall of 2010.
For our part, we are thrilled to see this come to fruition. We are grateful to the many people who made it happen, from those inside the university, to the legislators and to all the many volunteers in the HTC and elsewhere who took up the good fight.
-P. Jaramillo & C. Lohn.
Ten Years in Business; June 30, 2009
WSRDs reaches another milestone.
WSRDs Recognized in Historic Spaceport Launch; May 1, 2007
In a letter written to White Sands Research and Developers, LLC, Rick Homans, Executive Director of the New Mexico Space Authority, thanked the company for its part in the successful first "to-Space" launch at Spaceport America. Among many payloads, the rocket also carried the remains of James Doohan (Scotty of "Star Trek" fame) and US Astronaut, L. Gordon Cooper.
The successful flight of SXL-2, represented the culmination of an extensive post-flight analysis of the failed launch of SXL-1, and resultant design modifications to the vehicle. WSRDs played an integral part of both Launch Control Teams, the pre- and post-flight analysis, and the Technical Advisory Group, which made clear recommendations for the improvement of the rocket's flight characteristics.
WSRDs Certified 8(a); May 9, 2006
The United States Small Business Administration ("SBA") certified White Sands Research and Developers, LLC as an 8(a) firm.
New Mexico Spaceport; March 10, 2006
The Southwest Regional Spaceport closed in on reality as the New Mexico legislature passed a $100M+ spending bill to begin construction of the spaceport. Governor Richardson subsequently signed the legislation into law. This was a major vindication and a huge victory for those who have championed this concept for nearly fifteen years.
X-Prize Cup Countdown; October 11, 2005
New Mexico once again was making history in the field of rocketry holding the X-Prize Cup Countdown at the Las Cruces airport. The event drew a crowd of 20,000 spectators and numerous companies, who will be pushing the envelope in the commercial use of space and space exploration. WSRDs personnel were on hand in the command tent during the event, providing real-time trajectory analysis for some of the "flying" exhibitors.
2005 AE Legislative Actions; March 31, 2005
This year, there were several bills introduced specifically addressing AE.
HB-418, NMSU AE Department, Representative William Boykin
HB-609, NMSU AE Department, Representative Antonio Lujan
HB-687, BS Degree Program in AE, Representative Dr. Terry Marquardt
SB-43, NMSU AE Department, Senator Mary Jane Garcia
SB-1048, NMSU AE Program, Senator Leonard Lee Rawson
In addition, two bills were introduced to support the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium.HB-557, New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, Representative Andy NunezSB-382, NMSU Aeronautics & Space Program, for the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, Senator Leonard Lee Rawson
The first five bills were wrapped up into two line items within SB-190.
$160K for NMSU to start an AE Department
$150K for New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology (NMT) to create an AE Department
The last two bills were wrapped up into one line item within SB-190.
$50K for an Aeronautics and Space Program
Governor Bill Richardson signed the SB-190 line items into law.
NMSU Seeks Aerospace Program Director; September 13, 2004
NMSU placed a recruitment ad for a Director of Aerospace Engineering in the August 2004 edition of Aerospace America. The search for a Director represents a concrete step in instituting the new AE program, which is expected to accept its first students for classes starting in Fall 2005.
In legislative actions, Representatives Antonio Lujan and Terry Marquardt; and Senator Mary Jane M. Garcia are considering introducing a new spending measure of about $750K to hire additional faculty members for the new program.
High Tech Consortium Honors WSRDs Founders; April, 23, 2004
At the 2004 Annual Dinner and Poster Session of the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico ("HTC"), Dr. Lohn and Dr. Jaramillo were presented with the following award:
"The High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico Recognizes and Honors Dr. Christina Lohn and Dr. Paul Jaramillo for Outstanding Efforts Toward Establishment of NMSU Aerospace Engineering Department, 2003-2004."
Dr. Julie Seton, President of the HTC, presented the award in front of a distinguished audience. The dinner took place at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum.
Gov. Richardson Signs Bills Creating New Mexico's First Department of Aerospace Engineering ("AE"); March 10, 2004
Two Bills, House Bill 73 ("HB-73") sponsored by Representative Antonio Lujan and Senate Bill 69 ("SB-69"), sponsored by Senator Mary Jane Garcia were rolled into separate line items in House Bill 2 ("HB-2"), the General Appropriations Bill. On March 10th, Governor Bill Richardson signed HB-2 into law. The two line items appropriate $275K in funds specifically for the establishment of a Department of Aerospace Engineering at New Mexico State University ("NMSU"). The Fiscal Impact Reports for both bills listed the funds as recurring. The Governor promised to an additional $350 in capital outlay in a separate spending measure.
These appropriations are a historic milestone in New Mexico's Aerospace industry. There are some in industry who believe that the start of an AE department will someday be viewed as a pivotal moment in New Mexico’s Aerospace industry. Moreover, as the Aerospace industry is a major component of the State's total economy, it may very well signal a turning point in the economic landscape of the New Mexico.
These appropriations are historic in other ways. They represent a first step in correcting an inequity that has kept our youth from playing a significant role, not only in the future of their home state, but also in the future of their country and indeed of all mankind. A recent survey showed that New Mexico's youth have a very keen interest in AE, on par with the two largest engineering disciplines offered in the state, Electrical Engineering ("EE") and Mechanical Engineering ("ME"). ME and EE are each offered at three universities in the state with statewide enrollment in each discipline of around 600-800 students.
Bills to Establish NM's First Department of Aerospace Engineering ("AE") Make it through Hurdles; February 19, 2004
The New Mexico Legislature approved two bills funding the first Aerospace Engineering Degree Program in the State of New Mexico. The Bills, HB-73 ($75K) and SB-69 ($200K), provide a total of $275K in recurring funds; and they specifically support the establishment of a Department of Aerospace Engineering at New Mexico State University ("NMSU"). Dr. Paul Jaramillo of WSRDs and Dean William McCarthy of NMSU, testified in Santa Fe before the Senate and House Education Committees. In addition, Governor Bill Richardson promised to add $350K in capital outlay to support facilities and infrastructure. The first AE courses are anticipated to be offered in the Fall of 2005. The Bills and the Capital Outlay are expected to receive Governor Richardson's signature by March 10th.
Five Years in Business; June 30, 2004
WSRDs reaches a business milestone!
Aerospace Engineering ("AE") Initiative Gains Momentum; January 23, 2004
WSRDs has continued to be the industry spearhead of an effort to establish the first Aerospace Engineering Degree Program in the State of New Mexico. The effort has progressed considerably in the past six months, gaining particular momentum in just the last months. Two Bills appropriating funds to develop an AE Program were put forth in the 46th Legislature. HB-73 introduced by Representative Antonio Lujan, and SB-69, introduced by Senator Mary Jane M. Garcia, are now working their way through the legislative process. Our legislators' enthusiastic support has turned dream into possibility; and if passed, these Bills will turn possibility into reality.
In support of the legislative action, WSRDs, the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico (HTC), the Professional Aerospace Contractors Association (PACA) and others have mobilized to raise funds towards the establishment of an Endowed Chair. In only one month, considerable funds have been raised. Of course, more are still needed.
At New Mexico State University (NMSU), Dean William McCarthy of the College of Engineering has provided the vision and leadership to bring the idea through many administrative hurdles. Department Head Ronald Pederson of the Department of Mechanical Engineering has provided valuable assistance and resources to move the AE Program implementation forward.
The action is timely as New Mexico was just selected (January 21, 2004) as a finalist to bid to host the first Annual X-Prize Cup. This comes on the heels of the recent establishment of a UAV Center of Excellence at the Las Cruces Airport. The Center is a joint, regional UAV Systems and Operations Validation Facility (USOVF) created through a partnership between Holloman AFB, the Physical Science Laboratory (PSL) and NMSU. PSL is also home to the Suborbital Center of Excellence (SCE), which promotes education, research, and outreach in suborbital engineering and science. Suborbital platforms include high-altitude balloons, sounding rockets and small satellites.
Drive Begins to Create an Aerospace Engineering ("AE") Endowed Chair; January 9, 2004
On December 10, 2003, WSRDs began spearheading an effort to secure pledges of private funds for an endowed chair for a future Department of Aerospace Engineering. The effort began immediately following a meeting between President Flores, Dean McCarthy and ME Dept Head Ron Peterson of New Mexico State University; Representative Antonio Lujan and Senator Mary Jane M. Garcia; and Dr. Lohn of White Sands Research and Developers (WSRDs). The immediate goal of the drive was to unequivocally demonstrate to New Mexico law makers just how serious New Mexicans are about creating an AE program.
WSRDs went to work during, through and after the Christmas Break; and in just one month's time, substantial financial pledges were received. A large and timely pledge came from the Physical Science Laboratory (PSL). The High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico ("HTC") also implemented an internal drive through its membership, receiving pledges almost immediately.
The overall goal of the pledge drive is to reach a total of $500K before the anticipated start of the AE program in the Fall of 2005. This would allow NMSU to apply for $500K in matching funds from the State of New Mexico.
University Approves First Aerospace Engineering Program in NM; July 29, 2003
A proposal to establish the first Aerospace Engineering Program at a New Mexico University passed its last hurdles on July 29th 2003. WSRDs took an active role in authoring and editing the proposal; and supplied much of the supporting data. The proposal has successfully made its way through New Mexico State University's chain of command, receiving approval at each step of the way. This culminated in an approval by the university's Board of Regents. It is anticipated that the first AE courses will be offered in the Fall of 2004.
High Tech Consortium Publishes WSRDs' Report; May 9, 2003
The High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico (HTC) published a report by White Sands Research and Developers, LLC. The report discusses several surveys conducted by WSRDs since the Spring of 2002 in support of an initiative to establish Aerospace Engineering programs in the State of New Mexico. The surveys gathered data on the interests of high school students from around the state. It also gathered data on the needs of regional employers, with the purpose of providing data that could be utilized to tailor academic programs to promote economic development within New Mexico's Aerospace industry.
BACKGROUND DATA TO SUPPORT THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AEROSPACE ENGINEERING DEGREE PROGRAMS IN NEW MEXICO
By Paul T. Jaramillo, PhD.
Christina Lohn, PhD.,
White Sands Research and Developers, LLC, 2003
A study was undertaken to investigate a particular means of fostering economic development within New Mexico’s Aerospace industry. Despite New Mexico’s pivotal role in the history of aerospace technological development, today its own Aerospace industry is stagnant in many areas and has missed opportunities to capitalize in growth areas of the Aerospace industry. One of the primary reasons is that New Mexico lacks a critical piece of infrastructure, that being a degreed program in Aerospace Engineering. Indigenous, properly designed, Aerospace Engineering programs would promote economic development by supporting both the established part of the State’s Aerospace industry and by assisting newly emerging areas in reaching their respective critical masses.
This report presents survey data from New Mexico’s high school students, entry level engineering students and its Aerospace industry. In addition, it presents data on Aerospace and other engineering curricula in the region. The data gathered on New Mexico’s Aerospace industry included both employment data and data on its activities. The latter are of sufficient depth to allow specific recommendations to be made with respect to the design and development of degree programs in Aerospace Engineering within the State of New Mexico.
This study found that New Mexico’s youth have a strong interest in Aerospace Engineering, which could eventually lead to Aerospace Engineering becoming one of the largest and most sustainable academic engineering disciplines offered by universities in the State. The study also found that Aerospace Engineering programs designed responsive to New Mexico’s Aerospace industry would be justified on the basis of the current and future employment needs in New Mexico’s Aerospace industry. Moreover, there were indications suggesting that competitive programs designed responsive to New Mexico’s Aerospace industry would actually increase the number of Aerospace jobs in the State and that such programs would favorably position the State, in terms of its workforce, for emerging areas in the Aerospace industry. In sum, this study produced hard data to justify, design and facilitate the establishment of Aerospace Engineering degree programs in New Mexico. Therefore, this report can serve as an informative resource for educators, policy makers and industry advocates interested in the health and development of New Mexico’s Aerospace industry.
WSRDs Receives Certificate of Appreciation; April 5, 2003
The High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico ("HTC") presented White Sands Research and Developers, LLC with a Certificate of Appreciation for "outstanding support of the HTC." The award was presented during the HTC's 2003 Annual Dinner. Dr. Lohn accepted the award on behalf of WSRDs. Specifically mentioned was WSRDs' work in promoting Aerospace Engineering programs at universities in the New Mexico. WSRDs has recently completed a report documenting this work, which includes results from surveys of high schools, universities and regional employers.
SBA Certifies WSRDs as an SDB; February 3, 2003
The United States Small Business Administration ("SBA") certified White Sands Research and Developers, LLC as a Small Disadvantaged Business ("SDB"). The SBA vetting process involves an investigation of the financial and legal underpinnings of a company; and therefore, successful certification provides customers a measure of quality assurance. This is particularly important for federal procurement.
Newspaper Article; November 14, 2002
The following article is a slightly modified and updated version of an article that was submitted by White Sands Research and Developers, LLC (WSRDs) to The Bulletin, Las Cruces NM. It was subsequently printed as the cover story of the November 14th-20th edition of The Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 6.
Rocket Science in New Mexico
Are we Flying with Clipped Wings?
Christina Lohn, PhD.,
White Sands Research and Developers, LLC (WSRDs)
Aerospace Engineering is a fascinating discipline and well-paying profession. It involves the research, development, testing and production of just about any object that flies and has a scientific, commercial, military or recreational purpose. The list of “identified flying objects” includes parachutes, balloons, blimps, hang-gliders, helicopters, aircraft, rockets, satellites and interplanetary probes. Whether designing for a serene glide above earth’s green valleys or meteoric flight through the Martian atmosphere, “rocket scientists” more formally known as Aerospace Engineers, are in the business of blazing a path to the future.
About a century ago, the Wright Brothers performed one of the first feats of “aerospace engineering” by measuring the lift and drag on small wing shapes and successfully extrapolating the results to a full-scale airplane. Shortly thereafter, World War I helped aviation capture the imagination as spindly bi-planes battled in the skies over Europe. However, it was in World War II where the science behind it all advanced to a new level, with propulsion going from piston engines to jets and then on to rockets. In the Cold War, rocket science reached a crescendo, culminating with the first steps on the moon.
What role has New Mexico (NM) played through all of this? In 1916, the United States made its first use of aviation for military purposes following the raid of Columbus, NM by Pancho Villa. In 1930, Dr. Robert H. Goddard moved to Roswell where he laid the groundwork for rocket propulsion over an 11-year period. It was near the end of World War II, however, when NM aviation really took off. At early dawn on July 16th 1945, 14-year old Salomon A. Jaramillo was preparing to hoe a bean field. As he was tying his shoes on the front steps of his adobe home in Abeytas NM, he witnessed one of the pivotal moments in history: the detonation of the world’s first atomic bomb. This event brought aerospace to New Mexico with a BANG, as the detonation site would soon become part of the busiest aerospace vehicle testing facility in the world. Following World War II, White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) tested captured German Rocket technology, becoming the direct successor of dismantled Peenemuende, Germany, the world’s first rocket research, development and test facility. Aerospace is indeed, a large part of New Mexico’s heritage.
So surely one can study Aerospace Engineering (AE) in New Mexico, right? This is what Paul T. Jaramillo, son of Salomon Jaramillo, pondered in 1978. Unfortunately, today the situation is the same: there is not a university in the entire state where one can study AE. In contrast, every neighboring state has between one and six universities offering AE degrees, and you can study AE all the way to the doctoral level. If NM residents wish to study AE, they face long-distance logistics and major costs to study out-of state. Thus the usual result for a New Mexican wishing to study AE is to settle for another discipline within the State. This is the “choice” Paul Jaramillo made 25 years ago. For a very few and lucky, an out-of-state university may offer a large enough scholarship to entice them to apply their talent to the benefit of their university’s prestige and another state’s economy.
New Mexico has a grass-roots interest in Aerospace Engineering. A recent survey of entry level students engineering indicated that about two-thirds of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering students at New Mexico State University ("NMSU") would have considered AE if it would have been available. Even more compelling is a recent survey of Las Cruces high-school students in advanced placement math and physics. The students chose engineering over medicine, law, business and many other disciplines, as their number one pick of academic fields. The real eye opener, however, is that AE ranked with Electrical and Mechanical Engineering to form a top tier of engineering disciplines of interest to area students pulling 60% more interest over the next closest engineering discipline. Amazingly, all of the lower-ranking engineering disciplines are currently offered at NM universities, some in multiple places.
If the high-school survey results were projected across the state’s 89 school districts, the annual number of high-school seniors highly interested in AE would number around 250. Adding West Texas, the pool would be even larger. Since it takes only 50 to 70 students annually to sustain an undergraduate program, NM’s high schools could provide enough students to warrant several AE programs.
So why isn’t AE offered in New Mexico? If our youth want to study AE, we shouldn’t require them to take the measures Paul Jaramillo took. After studying Petroleum Engineering at New Mexico Tech, he went on to work in Northern Alaska, but held onto his dreams by becoming a dedicated hang-glider pilot. After five years, he went back to school on his own terms, attaining a doctoral degree in AE. Paul got his way through shear willpower, but he would like to see NM’s youth have an easier time at it.
“Establishing an Aerospace Engineering Program in the state will help NM reclaim a part of its heritage and it will put in place a key piece of infrastructure needed by our State’s Aerospace industry. We are very pleased that the Mechanical Engineering Department at NMSU, headed by Dr. Nassersharif, has put forth the first proposal to build a program for a BS in AE. This is a tremendous step forward, and no less credit has to be given to my wife and business partner, Christina. It is fair to say that her experience in establishing new academic curricula coupled with shear tenacity, especially in gathering hard data, has been THE critical factor in moving this forward. Also, the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico (HTC), which appointed her project lead in this initiative, has provided a unified voice for local businesses.”
The draft proposal is a major step forward. However, we want to ensure that a program meets several objectives: First, it must be competitive and poise itself for graduate degrees and second, it must directly benefit NM. To address the first objective, we conducted a survey of aerospace engineering programs around the country. It clearly indicated that a competitive program would require about 47 credit hours of aerospace-specific courses. Regarding the second objective, we must keep in mind that this began as an industry initiative, that is, business coming to academia saying: “This is what we need.” Additionally, it would be NM taxpayers footing the bill for such a program, so NM taxpayers should receive a return on their investment. A program responsive to New Mexico’s industry will return higher paying and more interesting jobs to the area. Based on hard data, the HTC passed a resolution addressing these and other objectives. Unanimity will be an important factor to gain the political support needed to fund such a program.
Which brings us to the prize: Would there be jobs waiting for our new Aerospace graduates? To answer this question, we conducted a survey of the State’s Aerospace industry and government entities and some out-of-state NASA installations with a similar mission. The purpose was twofold: 1) to determine the state’s AE job market and 2) to provide specific data to design an AE curriculum that benefits NM.
Results indicated New Mexico’s current and potential AE job market has three basic sources: 1) existing jobs, 2) in-state dollars spent on out-of-state jobs and 3) emerging sectors. The existing jobs are mainly a result of NM being a center for Test and Evaluation. Entities such as White Sands Missile Range, Sandia National Labs, two powerful Directorates of the Air Force Research Lab and a multitude of support contractors form the majority of this group. In this group alone, there are enough existing jobs to justify an AE Program. In addition, we have seen a latent potential to produce new jobs simply by holding on to a larger percentage of federal dollars that currently flow into the state, only to flow right back out. This is where an AE program could make a difference, helping to build a tighter technical net to capture more of those dollars. In the emerging sectors, a new aircraft manufacturer recently located in Albuquerque bringing civil aircraft manufacturing to the state. Las Cruces could also succeed in becoming a center for the testing and operations of unmanned aerial vehicles. The ultimate in “rocket science” would occur with the establishment of a spaceport, as NM offers advantages to launching into orbit solely from its geographic location, high altitude and clear skies. All of these areas are our future, but we must stake a claim on that future. A high quality Aerospace Engineering Program tailored to New Mexico’s needs is an essential ingredient. Without it, we are trying to fly towards our future with clipped wings.
United States Department of Commerce Presents WSRDs with Award; October 1, 2002
White Sands Research and Developers, LLC was awarded an "Export Achievement Certificate" by the United States Department of Commerce. The award was presented by Mr. Matthew Hilgendorf, an International Trade Specialist for the Department of Commerce. The presentation of the award was made on September 27, 2002 during a meeting of the HTC. The meeting took place at the Physical Science Laboratory auditorium on the campus of New Mexico State University. WSRDs was only the second company in the State of New Mexico to be presented with such an award.
Aerospace Engineering Initiative Takes Shape; May 24th, 2002
On April 5th, the HTC held its first anniversary dinner. During the event, Dr. Lohn sat next to the President of New Mexico State University ("NMSU") and keynote speaker, Dr. Jay Gogue. During dinner, she brought up the possibility of NMSU considering an Aerospace Engineering Program. Dr. Gogue, whose philosophy emphasized the role of universities in economic development, seemed to take interest. In the following weeks, WSRDs began collecting background information and meeting with people. Among the many, Dr. Bahram Nassersharif, Head of the ME department at NMSU, showed a keen interest in the idea. After several meetings, Dr. Lohn invited Dr. Nassersharif to attend an HTC meeting.
On May 24th, Dr. Nassersharif attended a meeting, during which Dr. Lohn made a presentation to the HTC. After the presentation, she asked the HTC to support the establishment of an Aerospace Engineering Degree Program in Southern New Mexico. The HTC unanimously passed a resolution supporting the initiative and appointed Dr. Lohn HTC lead for the project.
New Organization Promotes Technology in Southern New Mexico; March 2002
A new organization was recently formed in Southern New Mexico to promote the region's hidden, but potent technical capabilities. The organization, called the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico ("HTC"), was incorporated in March of 2002. Several individuals from area high-tech companies had been meeting for about a year prior to the formation of the new company. The synergism quickly developed and gained momentum leading to corporate status for the HTC. Dr. Lohn was on the founding committee and WSRDs has been an active participant to date.
White Sands Research and Developers is Founded; June 30, 1999
All things have a beginning. This is ours!