Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) technicians brought another piece of processing equipment online in March as they began testing the Rocket Shear Machine (RSM).
“We’re testing the rocket clamps, punches, positioner, and shear blade,” said Brian Stutz, instrumentation and controls technician, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “We communicate with the Control Room operator, who cycles the equipment, and we observe the action and report back. Everything must work perfectly and repetitively before we can proceed to the next step.”
The RSM is the second demilitarization machine in the process to destroy the M55 rockets, Stutz said. It follows the Rocket Cutting Machine, which will cut and remove the rockets’ shipping and firing tubes and separate the warhead from the rocket motor. The RSM will clamp, punch and drain the agent from the warhead and then shear it into several pieces for the energetics neutralization process.
“The next step for the RSM is to operate it with test rockets,” said Steve Mantooth, mechanical engineer, BGCAPP. “These rockets closely resemble the real rockets we will be destroying, but are either empty or filled with water. This will give us the opportunity to completely test the RSM without compromising the safety of our workers.”
When in operations, the RSM can process up to 24 rockets an hour, Mantooth said.