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New range safety and range user system antennas for the ECANS project can be seen just behind and to the left of the cockpit on NASA's NF-15B research aircraft.

Photo Number: ED07-0026-14
Photo Date: February 26, 2007
Formats: 640x577 JPEG Image (211 KBytes)
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New range safety and range user system antennas for the ECANS project can be seen just behind and to the left of the cockpit on NASA's NF-15B research aircraft.
NASA's Dryden Fight Research Center conducted a series of ground and airborne tests of improved space-based communications and tracking technologies during the Space-Based Range Demonstration and Certification project under the Exploration Communications and Navigation Systems program. The project developed and demonstrated state-of-the-art space-based communication links for tracking data, telemetry and flight termination systems. It will help eliminate the need for downrange ground-based infrastructure now used for aircraft and space launch vehicles. Results of the flight tests will also aid certification of the new systems for operational use.

NASA Dryden's highly modified NF-15B research aircraft served as the testbed for this project. NASA research pilot Jim Smolka and flight test engineer Mike Thomson flew a series of 13 flights over a four-month period from November 2006 through February 2007. The first half-dozen of these flights checked out new Ku-band phased array antennas and associated transceivers for the Range Safety and Range User Systems, while the remaining flights validated the Range Safety System. Both systems were linked between the aircraft, the NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS), and test ranges at Dryden and White Sands in New Mexico, with data transmitted to Goddard Space Flight Center, Md. and Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

The range safety antennas installed on the aircraft also underwent antenna radiation pattern testing in the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base to validate the actual flight data.

A space-based communications system using current satellite technologies could reduce operational costs of ground-based test range assets, and is applicable to a variety of manned and unmanned research aircraft and expendable space launch vehicles. The multi-center project was led by the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA Photo by: Lori Losey
Keywords: F-15, NF-15B, #837, SBRDC, Space-Based Range Demonstration and Certification, ECANS, Exploration Communications and Navigation Systems, Benefield Anechoic Facility, Ku-band phased array antennas, Range Safety and Range User Systems, Range Safety System

Last Modified: April 4, 2007
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