Modernizing The Heart Of NASA's Space Network
General Dynamics is the prime contractor for NASA’s Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) project that is modernizing the space agency’s ground infrastructure systems for their Space Network, and provides for continuous technology insertion and system upgrades for the next 25 years. The mission of the Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) Project is to implement a flexible and extensible ground segment that will allow the Space Network (SN) to maintain the high level of service in the future, accommodate new users and capabilities, while reducing the effort and cost required to operate and maintain the system.
The Space Network
NASA’s Space Network is made up of several Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS) in geosynchronous orbit which relay data signals from orbiting platforms, including the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station, to the ground. The Ground Segment, comprised of antennas, electronics, computers and networking equipment, receives the relayed data signals, processes them, and distributes them to the individual users. First implemented in 1983, the hardware and software the Ground Segment has become increasingly difficult to sustain and maintain, posing substantial risk to the highly reliable service provided for over two decades.
Modernizing The Space Network's Ground Segments
The SGSS Project has the responsibility to completely refurbish the Ground Segment of NASA’s Space Network (SN). This involves totally redesigning the architecture and function of two ground stations at the White Sands Complex in White Sands, NM and a Terminal at the Guam Remote Station, as well as adding a third ground station at Blossom Point, MD.
General Dynamics has successfully completed critical ground system modifications and technology updates needed to support the mission of NASA’s third generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS), the first of which was launched in January 2013. Modifications to the current White Sands ground system included integrating advanced command, control and communications equipment and systems. The work was done without interrupting the day-to-day operations of the TDRS constellation connecting the space agency’s spacecraft to their operators.
SGSS is not only updating the Space Network's Ground Segment, but is also bringing modern technology to the network. SGSS will allow for regular and continuous insertion of new hardware and software as technology continues to advance. This will enable the Space Network to continue to grow and expand, adding new capabilities and services, even after SGSS has finished being installed. The SGSS program also supports “green” initiatives by reducing the amount of equipment needed by a factor of 10. This means less power consumption, less building cooling will be needed, and less electronic waste (“e-waste”) is being created for the future.