SLI's Space-based Telemetry and Range Safety Project Demonstrated

Press Release From: Kennedy Space Center
Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2002

Groundbreaking developments constantly improve today's technology, and the Space Launch Initiative's Space-Based Telemetry And Range Safety (STARS) project continues the tradition by impacting the future of space travel.

Last month, participants witnessed a demonstration of the STARS Command and Data Handler (C&DH) flight processor, developed by KSC civil servants. C&DH lead software designer Chris Forney demonstrated the flight processor's capabilities.

"The STARS project is a critical component of KSC's strategic move into range technology development," said Jim Heald, Spaceport Engineering and Technology director. "The engineering and program management inherent in the STARS project is a testament to the innovative skills of the KSC workforce."

Unlike present methods, STARS will demonstrate the capability of a space-based platform to provide Range Safety and Range User support for a variety of launch vehicles. "STARS will help prove the concept of a space-based range," said Heald. "Space-based ranges are critical to reducing the high cost of maintaining older ground based, down range infrastructure."

Range Safety support includes flight termination processing from both space and ground assets and vehicle tracking utilizing the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. Range User support includes high return link data rates for voice, video and vehicle data.

STARS will demonstrate, in flight, the ability to provide vehicle position tracking data during over-the-horizon flight operations. It will also determine feasibility of forward and return satellite links for real-time monitoring. STARS will use existing, proven satellite systems such as TDRSS and GPS to provide reliable communications and minimize flight demonstration risk.

As a result of the streamlining, STARS plans to reduce the cost of delivering payload to orbit by reducing ground operation costs, which sequentially supports NASA's Space Launch Initiative (SLI). According to STARS Project Manager Lisa Valencia, estimates show that using these methods could reduce costs by up to $40 million per year.

A space-based range would require less communication, manpower and maintenance costs than the current ground-based range infrastructure. Other benefits include a decreased launch turnaround time, the ability to launch multiple vehicles simultaneously and the ability to launch 2nd generation vehicles from any U.S. spaceport. and andand

Along with KSC (the STARS' program management center), the Dryden Flight Research Center, Wallops Flight Facility, Goddard Space Flight Center, Glenn Research Center, White Sands Complex, and Marshall Space Flight Center all have project responsibilities. For example, STARS flight demonstrations are scheduled to begin at Dryden in 2003. "The project could be considered a great example of NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe's vision of One NASA," said C&DH Lead Engineer Erik Denson.

The Space Launch Initiative is NASA's technology research and development program aimed at increasing safety and reliability and reducing the cost of a 2nd generation reusable launch vehicle. All NASA's field centers and the Air Force Research Laboratory are actively participating in the Space Launch Initiative and are vital to its success. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., leads the Space Launch Initiative for NASA's Office of Aerospace Technology.

Further information on the Space Launch Initiative can be found at:

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