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March 23, 1972: Parts of Edwards Rocket Sled Track Packed and Shipped to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

The 20,000 foot High Speed Track was stricken from the base property records. The track had been used since 1949 to test missiles, parachutes, escape systems and aircraft components. Some 18,900 feet of track were removed and shipped to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, marking a final end to an historic era at Edwards Air Force Base.

The Holloman High Speed Test Track (HHSTT) is a United States Department of Defense/Air Force aerospace ground test facility located at Holloman Air Force Base in south-central New Mexico. It is adjacent to the White Sands Missile Range and is operated by the 846th Test Squadron of the 96th Test Group of the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base.  The Test Track provides its services to a wide variety of American defense and governmental agencies such as the Air Force, Army, Navy, and the Missile Defense Agency, as well as America's allies.  The HHSTT was originally 3,350 feet long when initial construction was completed in August 1949. The first test performed at the HHSTT was the launching of the Northrop N-25 Snark in 1950, but soon included human tolerance testing under the command of Colonel John P. Stapp.  Col. Stapp was the last human test subject to ride the rocket-powered sleds at the HHSTT in December 1954. The track was lengthened to 5,000 feet in 1956, followed by another extension to 35,000 feet in 1957.  The next major track extension occurred in 1974 when the rails from the Edwards Air Force Base test track were shipped to Holloman and added to the existing tracks to give a new total length of 50,771 feet.  During this upgrade, a third rail, approximately 15,000 feet was added for high-speed, narrow-gauge sleds. In 2000, pulldown extensions of 149 feet were added to the north end of each rail, bringing the two primary rails to 50,917 feet.. The last major upgrade to the primary rail system occurred in 2002, when the narrow-gauge track was lengthened to 20,379 feet. The HHSTT currently holds the world land speed record for rocket sleds set in April 2003, at Mach 8.6, or 9,465 feet per second, or 6,453.409 miles per hour.

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