HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Russell Tower is back open, and ready to accept business at AMRDEC at Redstone Arsenal.
You may have noticed it high above the base. Russell Tower is 329 feet high and will be used as an observation platform managed by the Aviation Missile Research Development and Engineering Center. When the Army, government agencies, or other customers run tests on energetic devices down on the ground, the tower acts as a sensor platform.
It's tall, nearly 500 stairs up, with an unparalleled view of Redstone Arsenal, its test areas, and other parts of Huntsville.
On top of the tower is a platform and working lab. Experts say the tower works better than observing tests from a helicopter. Not only is it static, but they are able to use sensors in a realistic environment. The sensors can be moved, too.
"It's not just a tower. We have a laboratory at the top, plus a moveable laboratory that will stop anywhere from 0 to 300 feet,"said Jay Lilley. Lilley is Chief of AMRDEC's Propulsion Technology function.
Many people may see this tower way above Redstone Arsenal and wonder what it is. It was built 30 years ago, so it has been there for a while. But AMRDEC saw it was going to be demilitarized and torn down, to be sold for scrap. They tell WHNT News 19 they realized the value and unique capabilities of this tower and decided to refurbish it.
"It is a way to put sensors 320 feet in the air," said Lilley. "We're trying to establish this as a national asset. A signature range that is unlike any in the country."
Lilley said it's something worth saving.
"We took a little bit of a risk and said, 'We want this. This is too nice to give up,'" he explained.
The tower is not yet fully operational, but we are told its management has customers lined up waiting for when it is ready in the near future. It is less daunting to climb than it was in its former life, now that AMRDEC has nearly completed the renovations and the elevators are working.
Russell Tower is one of two facilities like it in the United States.
WHNT News 19 witnessed a rocket engine test firing from on top of the tower, which you can view in the post below:
"We want to get the word out that Russell Tower is back in business," Lilley stated.