NASA Funds Universities' New Experiments for Suborbital Flights

During fiscal year 2011, Research Range Services (RRS) personnel supported the final three Space Shuttle missions. Overall, more than 400 passes were tracked with valuable data transmitted to Easter Range controllers and Johnson Space Center (JSC) navigators as part of pre-launch, launch and on-orbit mission activities.

The Range’s two main radars shared the workload of simultaneously tracking the Orbiter and the ISS during the rendezvous and separation phases of the mission. Without this tracking, the mission control team would not have had an independent tracking source during those final critical minutes to make performance assessments and, if necessary, an abort determination. Prior to each launch, Range tracking radars, telemetry, and command systems personnel worked with the Eastern Range controllers, Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) network managers and JSC navigators to ensure RRS system readiness.

Voice circuits were thoroughly tested with GSFC and JSC prior to launch to ensure critical backup communications with the Orbiter in the event of an emergency.