NASA Logo

NTRS

NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
A Real Time Differential GPS Tracking System for NASA Sounding RocketsSounding rockets are suborbital launch vehicles capable of carrying scientific payloads to several hundred miles in altitude. These missions return a variety of scientific data including: chemical makeup and physical processes taking place in the atmosphere, natural radiation surrounding the Earth, data on the Sun, stars, galaxies and many other phenomena. In addition, sounding rockets provide a reasonably economical means of conducting engineering tests for instruments and devices to be used on satellites and other spacecraft prior to their use in these more expensive missions. Typically around thirty of these rockets are launched each year, from established ranges at Wallops Island, Virginia; Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska; White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico and from a number of ranges outside the United States. Many times launches are conducted from temporary launch ranges in remote parts of the world requiring considerable expense to transport and operate tracking radars. In order to support these missions, an inverse differential GPS system has been developed. The flight system consists of a small, inexpensive receiver, a preamplifier and a wrap-around antenna. A rugged, compact, portable ground station extracts GPS data from the raw payload telemetry stream, performs a real time differential solution and graphically displays the rocket's path relative to a predicted trajectory plot. In addition to generating a real time navigation solution, the system has been used for payload recovery, timing, data timetagging, precise tracking of multiple payloads and slaving of optical tracking systems for over the horizon acquisition. This paper discusses, in detail, the flight and ground hardware, as well as data processing and operational aspects of the system, and provides evidence of the system accuracy.
Document ID
20000097963
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Bull, Barton (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Bauer, Frank
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2000
Subject Category
Aircraft Communications and Navigation
Meeting Information
Institute of Navigation (ION) GPS-2000 Conference(Salt Lake City, UT)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.