Beez and I were out for a drive a couple of weeks ago, and thought we'd pop over to the White Sands Test Facility, located just across the Jornada Basin from the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park. When we've hiked around the park, we've looked over toward the Facility, so we were looking forward to seeing it a little closer up.
Silly me. Silly us. This is the sign that greeted us at the Baylor Canyon Road exit just off Highway 70:
Here is what the website says: Since WSTF is a protected and hazardous testing facility, it is not open to the general public. Employees and authorized visitors can only enter the facility with appropriate badges and photo identification.
Here is what they are doing out there where we didn't visit, according to the same website:
White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) conducts simulated mission duty cycle testing to develop numerous full-scale propulsion systems. These systems have been developed for the Apollo Service Propulsion and Lunar modules, Shuttle Orbiter, and the International Space Station (ISS). Additionally, we evaluate upgraded or redesigned shuttle orbiter components to extend service life, enhance performance, and improve mission safety. WSTF is formally certified to perform precision cleaning and depot-level refurbishment of flight-critical propulsion systems components.
The scientific investigation of explosion phenomena at WSTF is aimed at improving safety at launch facilities and other areas where hazardous materials are used. Ultra-high-speed instrumentation helps better define safety and structural requirements for new and existing launch facilities by measuring the effects of exploding liquid and solid propellants.
That's some pretty exciting stuff. I'm kind of glad we didn't get any closer.