Like many other parents, Cathy and I are blessed by our offspring and in their many achievements in life. We raised them with a strong belief in God, toughness in physical strength as well as character, hard work, and in being proud to be an American.
Benjamin Levi and Ethan L’Amour were Eagle Scouts, State UIL champs, high school valedictorians and were accepted into the Navy Academy at Annapolis, a first for the little town of Ozona, Texas. Both graduated with Mechanical Engineering degrees, Benjamin Levi was a Harrier pilot in the Marine Corps and Ethan a skipper on a Navy Mark VI Patrol Boat. Now both are out of the service and doing well in civilian life.
I have written before about Ethan L’Amour and some of our adventures together, and a bit of his work while in the Navy. Not much has been said about Benjamin Levi and for good reason. You see, Levi graduated 29th in his class at Annapolis and was immediately sent to Texas A&M for a master’s in aerospace engineering.
His specialty? Hypersonic Flight.
Following his Marine Corps hitch, Levi was hired by Sandia Labs and is now a projects manager for them. By and large this is highly classified and he often cannot say much about it. Besides, all I can tell anyone about rockets was my experiments with bottle rockets as a kid, and the statute of limitations on that may still be in effect.
But with the recent global uproar and international concern over the Red Chinese launch of a hypersonic rocket, the U. S. Government has decided to release some of the bigger results of our own hypersonic research to mass media sources. At Ground Zero in all this is Ben English, the fifth Ben and the name he goes by at work. A news release from Sandia Labs follows below, which in turn was picked up by media sources around the world. That release follows below.
When Levi sent this to me, he added a personal note:
“Dad, We stuck it to the Chinese and now we’re going to go do it again. Love and Respect, Levi”
Rest easy, America. The best that I can give you is on the job.
God bless to all,
Ben H. English
Proud Parent Extraordinaire
SANDIA LABS NEWS RELEASE
October 22, 2021
1 DAY. THREE ROCKETS 23 EXPERIMENTS
SANDIA LABS CONDUCTING HYPERSONIC WEAPONS RESEARCH AT BLISTERING PACE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One year to design, build and test three rockets. Six weeks to unpack, assemble and test them at the flight range. One day to launch them.
Sandia National Laboratories launched three sounding rockets in succession for the Department of Defense on Wednesday. The triple launch was conducted at NASA’s launch range at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to hasten development of 23 technologies for the nation’s hypersonic modernization priority, including the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike and the Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon programs.
This was the first mission for the High Operational Tempo for Hypersonics rocket program, funded by the Department of Defense. Experiments were supplied by Sandia, entities within the Defense Department and partner institutions. Other collaborators included Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University and several defense contractors.
“Hypersonic vehicles include components and materials from a wide array of cutting-edge technologies,” Sandia program manager Ben English said. “And because all those components come from a broad number of sources, all of them presumably can benefit from a reduced-cost, high operational tempo, flight-testing environment.”
A sounding rocket carries instruments that collect scientific data high up in Earth’s atmosphere. Wednesday’s rockets measured how experimental materials, sensors and communications devices contained inside the rockets — developed for hypersonic missiles — fared during launch and reentry.
Sounding rockets gather more accurate data than ground-based, mechanical flight simulators, and they can be launched more frequently and at a lower cost than fully fledged hypersonic vehicles, speeding up development of hypersonic technologies, English said.
“Our purpose is to generate a rapid testbed tempo at reduced cost to the taxpayer for future hypersonic weapons systems development and upgrades,” English said. “We are the technological steppingstone between ground-based lab testing and simulations, and a full weapons test. Sandia does both, currently, and this program is the middle ground between the two of them.”
While hypersonic vehicles like the Sandia-developed common hypersonic glide body, by definition, cruise for long distances at speeds of Mach 5 and above, the rockets that were launched Wednesday experienced these speeds for a comparatively brief time during their 260-mile ascent and subsequent reentry. Sandia is planning another launch in 2022 that will increase the amount of time payloads spend in hypersonic flight conditions.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.
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