Establishment of a NASA Temporary Tracking Station on Bermuda's Coopers Island
AffiliationGoddard Space Flight Center
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AbstractThe National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Wallops Flight Facility (WFF), Research Range Services (RRS) Program supports NASA's mission objectives by providing tracking, telemetry, meteorological, optical, and command and control services for flight vehicles including orbital and suborbital rockets. The RRS Program's mobile range instrumentation includes telemetry, radar, command and power systems. These mobile assets are used as needed to supplement instrumentation at existing ranges, or to establish a temporary range ensuring safety and collection of data in a remote location where no other range instrumentation exists. This complement of mobile systems can be deployed to provide complete range capabilities at remote locations around the world. Just 100 miles up the coast from where the Wright brothers first flew their airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orbital Sciences Corporation is planning to launch its new Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) system from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), located at NASA GSFC's WFF. Orbital's COTS system design is based on the new Taurus II rocket with a liquid oxygen (LOX)/kerosene (RP-1) first stage powered by two Aerojet AJ-26 engines. The Taurus II second stage is ATK's Castor 30 solid propellant motor derived from their flight proven Castor 120. The spacecraft, known as Cygnus, is derived from Orbital's heritage DAWN and STAR spacecraft projects and International Space Station cargo carriers. The Program is driven by the retirement of the space shuttle, and the United States lacking domestic capability to send crew and cargo to the International Space Station. As a consequence, NASA faces a cargo resupply shortfall of 40 metric tons (approximately 88,000 pounds) between 2011 and 2015 that cannot be met by international partners' space vehicles. Bermuda has played an important role in the United States space program since the 1960s. The former NASA Tracking Station on Bermuda's Coopers Island had range safety systems for command and control, and Missile Instrumentation Precision Radars (MIPRs) providing exact vehicle position and slaving for command destruct systems. Telemetry systems supported scientific spacecraft and manned space flight (i.e., Apollo, Space Transportation System [STS], and Spacelab) with high gain antenna systems. With the advent of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System and changes in the STS flight envelope in the late 1990s, NASA no longer 2 required Bermuda and deactivated the site. NASA instrumentation was removed in early 2000, and the property returned to the Government of Bermuda (GoB). This paper defines the process undertaken to secure an agreement with the GoB to establish a temporary tracking site and describes the technical approach and analysis conducted that justifies bringing Bermuda back as a critical NASA tracking site as it was during the Apollo era and the early years of the Space Shuttle. The RRS Program plans to support the COTS Program with a mobile launch range in Bermuda.
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