Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Space Travel News .




LAUNCH PAD
'Mission of Firsts' Showcased New Range-Safety Technology at NASA Wallops
by Lori Keesey for Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Feb 26, 2014


The Minotaur 1 four-stage rocket carrying the Air Force's Space Test Program Satellite-3 and 28 other CubeSats also carried a compact Autonomous Flight Safety System unit that operated in "shadow mode" to track the rocket's path as it lifted off the gantry and streaked across the horizon. Image courtesy Chris Perry/NASA Wallops. For a larger version of this image please go here.

A spectacular launch from Virginia's eastern shore recently resulted in the successful deployment of a record-breaking 29 small satellites into orbit, but that wasn't the only first for the mission or the bustling spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va.

Range safety officers also used the ORS-3 mission, run by the U.S. military's Operationally Responsive Space Office, to carry out the first of three planned certification tests of a new technology that promises to eventually eliminate the need for expensive down-range tracking and command infrastructure to manually terminate rockets if they veer off course.

According to Barton Bull, the chief engineer of the Wallops Research Range, the Minotaur 1 four-stage rocket carrying the Air Force's Space Test Program Satellite-3 (STPSat-3) and 28 other so-called CubeSats also carried a compact Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS) unit that integrated GPS, an inertial measurement unit and Wallops-developed algorithms to track the rocket's path as it lifted off the gantry and streaked across the horizon.

Developed by ATK, a supplier of aerospace and defense products from its location in Plymouth, Minn., the shoe box-size unit worked in shadow mode during its first certification test. As part of that test, range officers programmed the unit to respond to a simulated signal indicating that the rocket had gone off course and to send a self-destruct or detonate command at the appropriate time.

Initial Data 'Positive'
"We're still looking at the data, but initial indications are pretty positive," said Bull, whose organization created the unit's software. "Preliminary data indicate that the unit sent the simulated termination command at the right time."

Traditionally, range-safety officials use radar from ground stations operating in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Bermuda and Antigua to track flight vehicles and a ground-based command system to terminate rockets that deviate from their flight plans.

Due to increasing costs to maintain and staff these systems, NASA and the military launched a program several years ago to develop an autonomous system that would migrate flight-safety functions onto the rocket itself.

"All these systems need to be tied together and that costs money and time," Bull said. "Our objective is to save money and allow faster decision-making."

Initial testing of AFSS began more than three years ago. However, in those flight demonstrations the team used a system cobbled together with commercial, off-the-shelf components married to the Wallops-developed software. The test during ORS-3, however, employed the actual unit that ATK built under contract.

As a result of the unit's successful function test, the AFSS team plans to execute another test during a rocket launch from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, in the coming months. A launch date has not been set. Once the team finishes the certification, it believes AFSS will become fully operational in a couple years.

New Mission Graphics System Debuts
In addition to carrying out the first AFSS test toward certification, the mission debuted and tested a new, user-friendly mission-graphics system that updates radar and other data on a computer screen, Bull said.

"It takes an enormous amount of time to set up these systems" and make sure all the data, which typically arrive in different formats, are easily displayed, he added. The new system is more configurable and faster to set up.

"This was a mission of firsts on many different levels," Bull said. The team deployed a record-breaking 29 CubeSats, including, among others, Firefly (developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.), which is studying lightening and its possible connection to incredibly powerful bursts called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, or TGFs, just miles off the ground.

Also aboard were NASA's so-called "PhoneSat," which is testing a smartphone's capability as a communication technology for nanosatellites, and 11 student-developed research satellites. A student team from a high school in Alexandria, Va., provided one of the 11, also a first. "I think we were all pleased with the results," Bull said.

.


Related Links
NASA's Cubesat Launch Initiative
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





LAUNCH PAD
New Russian Rocket Mock-Up Rolls Out to Launch Pad
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Feb 20, 2014
A full-scale mock-up of Russia's first large post-Soviet rocket has been rolled out to a launch pad at the Plesetsk space center. The mock-up of the Angara, built by the Khrunichev aerospace research and production center, will be used to test ground support systems ahead of the maiden launch of the vehicle scheduled for later this year. The Angara is expected to launch both governme ... read more


LAUNCH PAD
'Mission of Firsts' Showcased New Range-Safety Technology at NASA Wallops

First Copernicus satellite at launch site

Arianespace to launch OPTSAT 3000 and VENuS satellites

Lighter engines a headache for satellite launcher Ariane

LAUNCH PAD
NASA Mars Orbiter Views Opportunity Rover on Ridge

Curiosity Adds Reverse Driving for Wheel Protection

Curiosity Drives On After Crossing Martian Dune

The World Above and Beyond

LAUNCH PAD
China Focus: Uneasy rest begins for China's troubled Yutu rover

Is Yutu Stuck?

Japan's Pocari Sweat bound for the moon: maker

Lunar ownership laws: a future necessity?

LAUNCH PAD
Thanks America, New Horizons Ahead

Countdown to Pluto

A Busy Year Begins for New Horizons

LAUNCH PAD
NASA cries planetary 'bonanza' with 715 new worlds

Detection of Water Vapor in the Atmosphere of a Hot Jupiter

ESA selects planet-hunting PLATO mission

Rife with hype, exoplanet study needs patience and refinement

LAUNCH PAD
US considers launching production of Russian rocket engines

Orion Stage Adapter Aces Structural Loads Testing

Teledyne unit wins $60 million contract to build NASA launch adapter

NASA Selects Space Launch System Adapter Hardware Manufacturer

LAUNCH PAD
No Call for Yutu

What's up, Yutu

China's Jade Rabbit rover comes 'back to life'

Yutu Awakes

LAUNCH PAD
Rocks around the clock: asteroids pound tiny star

Astronomer spots asteroid smashing into Moon

Radar Images of near-Earth Asteroid 2006 DP14

Subaru Telescope Detects Rare Form of Nitrogen in Comet ISON




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.