REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. --In one way, you could say it was only a test. On May 30th of 2017, the Missile Defense Agency put the Ground Based Mid Course Missile Defense System, GMD, through its paces. It was a multi-million dollar success. The target missile was launched and thousands of miles away the interceptor responded. The "Kill Vehicle" destroyed the target. "This was a big deal. It was the first time we used the operational system to engage an intercontinental ballistic missile class target, which is what the system was designed to do," said Col. Chad Skaggs, Space and Missile Defense Command Air and Missile Defense Integration.
With North Korea an ongoing threat, GMD only gets more important. The 2017 test, with Huntsville fingerprints all over it, was a confidence builder. "I think the system did a great job showing what the system's capability is and proving it to the American people that it is as advertised...executed flawlessly," said Col. Skaggs.
In November of last year, astronauts aboard the International Space Station released the Redstone Arsenal developed Kestrel Eye. It's a small satellite with a big job that provides visual observation for a particular area of operation. Kestrel Eye is now set for months of testing. "I hope we show the ability to first show from a technical view that we can reliably provide images rapidly and then from an application point of view, I hope we can show that makes a difference to the soldier on the ground," said Chip Hardy, the Kestrel Eye program manager at SMDC.
Something else for soldiers in 2017, PS Magazine, the Army's Preventive Maintenance Monthly since 1951, went digital only. The magazine's content is produced at Redstone. Its purpose is to help today's soldiers repair and maintain their gear. "Now they're back home and we're trying to get them back involved in doing preventive maintenance and maintenance practices and one of the reasons for the mobile app is to reach out to that young audience in a medium they prefer," said Jon Pierce, the Editor of PS Magazine.
In everything from providing information on the ground, to testing in space, 2017 was a year that set up important things for 2018.