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The U.S. Department of the Navy announced the selection of a Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division team as the recipient of a 2011 Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award.

It was the third year in a row that the Navy selected an NSWC, IHD, team for one of the prestigious awards.

NSWC, IHD, Densified Propellant Team won the award for developing, manufacturing and demonstrating a high-density rocket motor propellant that increases the range of the tube-launched, optically tracked, wire command data link guided missile by 40 percent.

John Hendershot, division head for NSWC, IHD’s Component Technology Division, said the new propellant significantly reduces backblast, launch signature and sound emissions while improving impulse.

“This allows the production of a smaller and safer-to-use missile with increased range that can reach a target in less time,” Hendershot said. “Additionally, the new propellant, which replaces some of the propellant material with a dense inert powder, has improved safety characteristics.”

Kevin Gessner, the lead customer advocate at NSWC, IHD, said the team’s early collaboration with industry ensured Indian Head Division understood war fighter requirements.

“By reaching out to industry early and understanding their performance needs, the team was able to develop propulsion technology that will enable future performance enhancements,” he said.

The NSWC, IHD, Densified Propellant Team members are Matthew Sanford, Paul Wallman, Diana Bragunier and Stephen Stiles.

The Navy established the annual Dr. Etter awards to honor civilian and military employees for exceptional scientific and engineering achievements.