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Trac9 and The National Youth Science Academy

In June the Trac9 team delivered an EXOHAB portable shelter to the National Youth Science Academy to support its range of STEAM activities. The shelter was initially delivered to support the NYSA’s National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) held each year at Camp Thornwood in the mountains of Pocahontas County, WV as an honors program to top STEM high schoolers. The camp has been held every year since 1963 but had been run as a virtual program from 2020-2022 due to the pandemic. The camp is free to attend and recruits students (referred to as delegates) from all over the US and western hemisphere. The EXOHAB was an exciting and cutting-edge addition to what was originally a Civilian Conservation Corps camp first setup in 1933.

NSYCamp is located within a National Radio Quiet Zone due to its proximity to the Green Bank Observatory, home to 100-meter diameter radio telescope, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope.

Our team delivered and setup the shelter where it was primarily used as NYSCamp’s Art Shack. The original Art Shack, which was built in the 1970s, recently suffered from severe structural damage due to a tree fall during a storm, and thus couldn’t be used for its intended purpose during camp. The shelter served as an amazing backup location for delegates to get to flex their more creative and artistic muscles.

Camp Thornwood is within the Monongahela National Forest and is close to some of the tallest mountains in the state. Temperatures typically remain cool even in summer months and there is commonly a layer of fog or sputtering rain throughout the day, so having a well-sealed and climate controlled space was essential.

The EXOHAB was outfitted with various and extensive art supplies for use by the delegates during their time at NSYCamp.

Delegates tie dying custom designs onto t-shirts on the pavement outside the Art Shack.

Following the camp shelter will be relocated to the National Youth Science Academy’s Davis Campus in Tucker County, WV where it will continue to serve as an important tool in promoting life-long STEAM learning to West Virginians and beyond!

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Members from the 27th & 1st SOMXG, Medical Group, AFCEC, AFMC Rapid Sustainment Office, AFSOC & PACAF A4, and Air Force Corrosion Prevention and Control Office prepare for an operational test of the ADAMS LO & Paint Complex in a simulated austere location at Hurlburt Field, Florida

Pictured above is a team of subject matter experts ready to help path find a new technology for the USAF aimed at providing fabrication & coating restoration capability in an Agile Combat Employment (ACE) type of environment. Feedback generated at this event will help validate current technology and drive innovative refinements to deliver a much-anticipated alternative to existing permanent infrastructure DoD wide. This solution provides a stop gap for existing operations and enhances repair networks by decreasing the distance parts are required to travel in the Pacific Theater for repair. This area of responsibility is home to 60 percent of the world’s population in 36 nations spread across 53 percent of the Earth’s surface. This tyranny of distance can be decreased for aircraft part movement with TRAC9’s solution positioned closer to the point of need. This relevant capability will be an essential part of Aircraft Battle Damage Repair (ABDR) operations as aerospace advanced composites and coating systems require climate control and regulated workspaces to capture dust & vapor hazards. The technology is mated with a transition room to ensure male or female workers can properly decontaminate themselves as part of standard occupational safety practices. To date the warfighter has never been able to bring a prepackaged capability like this to a deployed setting. Lack of this capability increases risk to worker health, the environment and mission as non-standard practices become a potential wartime necessity.

Providing workers with a safe and reliable place to perform repair operations was
a critical design factor during the development of the LO & Paint Complex kit. Unified
Facilities Criteria 4-211-02 for Aircraft Corrosion Control and Paint Facilities was
referenced to ensure major design considerations were captured. Aerospace coating
systems have traditionally utilized hexavalent chromium, also known as hex chrome or
chrome 6 as a corrosion inhibitor in the manufacturing of aerospace primers and paints.
Although, the European Union and United States Department of Defense have gone to
great strides to eradicate the use of chrome 6 in newer paint systems, in some cases it
remains. Legacy systems and some inner mold lines of today’s aircraft still have these
carcinogens where they may be encountered during routine maintenance operations by
personnel. The design of the system takes a green, yellow, and red-light approach to
decontamination areas. This provides separation between zones to ensure dust
hazards are not taken back to sleeping quarters or homes following repair of aerospace
components. The picture below outlines these critical safety zones.

  • Exhaust system and internal filter bank

    Pats Pending

    Modular 3 stage NESHAP exhaust
    system at back of paint booth
  • Air Shower Tunnel
    Configured with internal dividers and airshower to provide secure
    controlled work environment per UFC
  • Transition Shelter

To meet the operational requirement of a light and lean solution that does not require heavy cranes and forklifts for assembly. The design team arrived at a perceived minimum footprint for the deployable kit. The idea was to develop a solution that a small team of maintenance personnel could assemble with minimum tooling and support. The team also wanted to take advantage of systems that may already be in an area of responsibility or prepositioned location. As an example, a portable air compressor or a standard MEP generator system. Although the system can be complexed to other structures to meet any operational requirement for space or back-shop maintenance, this design focused on providing the minimum qualifications necessary to meet small part repair demands. The entire system can be packed in 3 ISU-90s or palletized.

The lessons learned throughout this venture increase the lethality of weapon systems by keeping them fully mission capable without engineering limitations or delayed discrepancies. The solution stands to provide a post natural disaster surge capacity or a post attack recovery solution in the event critical infrastructure is lost or takes years to replace. Given the fact people are certainly more important than hardware the system provides a safer solution for what has traditionally been an accepted wartime necessity of performing sanding and painting operations in non-approved fabric shelter systems. TRAC9 looks forward to developing solutions and use cases like this one that require outside the box thinking and a dedicated team of innovators to solve real-world logistics challenges.

Simulated austere location

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Wings Over Cannon AFB Air Show

Trac9 and the 27th SOMXS setup ADAMS to participate in Cannon AFB Air Show, April 2023.

Displayed above is the ADAMS located on the flightline side of the airfield. It was being set up to participate in the Wings Over Cannon Air Show. The ADAMS was featured as an innovation hub, and it was complete with TV monitors, Computers, 3D Scanners and 3D Printing technologies. The day before the air show Trac9 participated in “STEM hall”, which unveiled the futuristic concept for reverse engineering to Elementary and High School students from the cities of Clovis and Portales New Mexico.

TRAC9 was able to help accommodate the setup of the ADAMS by wiring it to an existing piece of Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE). This supplied the required power to run the climate control, lighting, and outlets to power the innovation lab. The display showcased the versatility of the ADAMS, as it was able to run off a piece of equipment that may already be in theater during an aircraft maintenance tasking. This may be useful for decreasing deployment footprints, as well as efficiently utilizing available space on cargo aircraft in the future. Having an additional solution to power the shelter system that is already approved for flightline operations is vital to the Air Force’s Multi-Capable Airmen initiative. Furthermore, ground crew already regularly trained on the usage and maintenance of said power sources.

The TRAC9 team was also able to develop a new method for keeping the structure secure to the ground in a situation where staking or bolting the arches to the concrete is not possible. Aircraft tarmacs and aprons often do not allow for drilling or anchors that would become an ingestion hazard for aircraft engines. By developing a decking system to go under the ADAMS the team was able to find a way to secure the ADAMS on the outside of the structure with heavy dunnage. Buckets of water or large water bladders with ropes were not needed to hold the ADAMS in place during high winds, making it both an effective solution and less of an eyesore.

As expected, wind conditions picked up on the day of the event. Many tent systems on display had to be taken down due to high winds. The air shows medical staff tent was one of the tent structures that could not withstand the high winds of the desert plains. The versatility of the ADAMS again was showcased as it was quickly transitioned into a first aid station for participants. The system quickly garnered the attention of the Medical Group Leadership and plans were discussed to develop the system into a medical suite in the future. Some of the benefits of the design included the ability to quickly sterilize the shelter as opposed to dusty and unhygienic fabric systems previously used for battlefield surgical requirements. The ability to hang additional lighting and medical equipment from the walls of the shelter was also viewed as an operational advantage in a wartime situation.

Cannon AFB aircraft maintenance personnel plan to utilize the ADAMS as part of initiative to combine several aircraft maintenance back shops into a lean fighting force. By equipping their mission with an ADAMS, they can conduct fabrication and other aircraft battle damage repairs as required in an austere or contested environment. No doubt, the Airmen are up for the task and the ADAMS system is ready to support the new mission requirement within the 27th SOMXS.

Medical Staff excited to see what the ADAMS morphs into next!

ADAMS powered by Aerospace Ground Equipment in front of Hangar 194 Cannon AFB

Trac9 is happy to have had the opportunity to discuss future use cases and development with the Air Force Special Operations Airmen of Cannon AFB and look forward to seeing all their great innovative ideas and uses for the system come to fruition very soon.

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Typhoon Mawar Relief

Airmen prepare to deploy arch 3 and 4 following training provided by Trac9 personnel.

Pictured above are the prepositioned ADAMS, which had been kept in storage for two years, being utilized to save the day after a devastating typhoon on the island of Guam. Although the scene looks like a futuristic base camp on the moon, these innovative structures are useful in many capacities, and are being seen popping up all over the United States.

A Team consisting of two Trac9 members arrived short notice to train and assemble the original prototypes developed under a COMPACAF innovation seed money initiative in 2020. This was the first time the ADAMS was able to showcase its value as a prepositioned asset. Although it had been kept in non-climate-controlled storage for two years, the systems components looked as new as the day they were delivered and stored away. 15 Airmen with no prior knowledge of the system, or what was even hiding within the containers, arrived to receive training on assembly techniques. With a quick overview and background on the system, an assembly video was shown and the Trac9 and Air Force members were in full stride building the capability. With as little as a thirty-minute pep talk, the airmen were prepared to begin setting up the structures. As Airmen begin to see the shelters come to life, several commented that “they looked like they were meant for space”. Most were astounded that something seemingly so technical was assembled by a team with zero experience, in such a short amount of time. In less than three hours, the team of novices had completed one structure in its entirety.

Three ADAMS are shown amongst debris that was cleared out of the way for the assembly operations.

Typhoon Mawar was one of the strongest Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones on record. It slammed into the small island in the month of May 2023. It became a Category 5 super typhoon and passed over Andersen AFB, Guam as a category 4 typhoon. This made it the strongest storm to make a direct hit on Guam since Typhoon Pongsona in 2002. U.S. President Joe Biden declared Guam a major disaster area on May 27th enabling distribution of federal funds.

In June, following damage assessments to the main base infrastructure on the installation, it was evident additional space was going to be needed. High winds caused damage to roofs and flooded the inside of many homes and base facilities. Power outages and lack of HVAC caused further damage over the span of 3-5 weeks as mold and mildew set in. More than 800 military families were displaced as their homes were deemed uninhabitable. Space not traditionally set aside for residents was utilized to provide shelter for families. This naturally meant the day-to-day mission needed to be relocated and shifted to other available spaces. Desperate to find solutions to the housing and working facilities crisis, leadership at Andersen AFB Guam decided the best solution would be to put the ADAMS to the test.

Mission Accomplished as ADAMS are bed-down and ready for use near Andersen AFB historic tower

The ADAMS had been previously designed and put into production for exactly the type of crisis that Guam was encountering. You could certainly expect the same sort of carnage and damage to facilities following an adversarial attack against the island. Tropical winds and heavy rain typically prevent fabric-based structures from being a suitable long-term option for island operations. The ADAMS was designed with Agile Combat Employment as the basis for all developmental design decisions. With an increased wind load it can survive tropical storm conditions. Trac9 is very proud to be a major contributor to finding solutions, comfort, and healing to the devastated island by providing a way to continue the base’s mission, aid in providing more space for displaced families, and provide a climate-controlled center for operations during base reconstruction. These Trac9 shelters installed to support the 36th MXG Aircraft Maintenance Operations will be in place for years to come as damage is repaired to the permanent base infrastructure. The ADAMS can then be placed back into storage until they are needed again.

Each 600-square-foot shelter is housed within an ISU-90 with its decking, HVAC, and fly sheet systems. The system features extendable arches and can be made longer or shorter depending on mission demands. It is a rigid Kevlar-based system capable of withstanding hits from tropical storms or blast debris. Wind protection alone is not sufficient when debris is being hurled at the walls of a structure. Trac9 provides not only wind protection, but also rigid protection from these types of unpredictable windblown hazards. The system has removable end walls to accommodate equipment and resources that may require the full volume of space provided within the shelter. The shelter can also be installed over top of equipment by simply positioning the arches over items that require protection from the elements. The versatility of the system allows it to be used for any mission that is currently being conducted inside of a fabric structure or a containerized mobile maintenance facility. However, it does not include the same limiting factors associated with both traditional options, such as their inability to be enlarged to accommodate bigger projects. The ADAMS is a hybrid capability able to adapt into anything you need.

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