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Low Earth Orbiter: TerminalIn response to the current government budgetary environment that requires the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to do more with less, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility has developed and implemented a class of ground stations known as a Low Earth Orbiter-Terminal (LEO-T). This development thus provides a low-cost autonomous ground tracking service for NASA's customers. More importantly, this accomplishment provides a commercial source to spacecraft customers around the world to purchase directly from the company awarded the NASA contract to build these systems. A few years ago, NASA was driven to provide more ground station capacity for spacecraft telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) services with a decreasing budget. NASA also made a decision to develop many smaller, cheaper satellites rather than a few large spacecraft as done in the past. In addition, university class missions were being driven to provide their own TT&C services due to the increasing load on the NASA ground-tracking network. NASA's solution for this ever increasing load was to use the existing large aperture systems to support those missions requiring that level of performance and to support the remainder of the missions with the autonomous LEO-T systems. The LEO-T antenna system is a smaller, cheaper, and fully autonomous unstaffed system that can operate without the existing NASA support infrastructure. The LEO-T provides a low-cost, reliable space communications service to the expanding number of low-earth orbiting missions around the world. The system is also fostering developments that improve cost-effectiveness of autonomous-class capabilities for NASA and commercial space use. NASA has installed three LEO-T systems. One station is at the University of Puerto Rico, the second system is installed at the Poker Flat Research Range near Fairbanks, Alaska, and the third system is installed at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This paper will describe the current NASA implementation of the LEO-T network of antenna systems, the customers now being supported, and the services NASA can now offer with this new breed of autonomous ground stations. In addition, the paper will define the technical capabilities of the system and the cost effectiveness of using the systems including the capital costs of installation.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Kremer, Steven E. (NASA Wallops Flight Facility Wallops Island, VA United States)
Bundick, Steven N. (NASA Wallops Flight Facility Wallops Island, VA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Subject Category
Ground Support Systems and Facilities (Space)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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