BAE Systems has entered into a partnership with Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) for the supply of two Tracking, Telemetry and Command Processor (TTCP) systems to GES at Farnborough International Airshow. This technology will allow GES to track and communicate with a wide range of spacecraft including future manned and robotic missions to the Moon and Mars.
The key features of the TTCP equipments include:
- A fully digital flexible Software Defined Radio (SDR) able to support data rates from 1 bit per second to 300 megabits per second from multiple spacecraft simultaneously, with 50 times the processing power of current technology.
- Tracking functions able to determine the spacecraft distance to around 10 cm at ranges of billions of km.
- Doppler measurement functions able to determine the spacecraft’s velocity away from or towards the ground station to an accuracy of around 0.01 mm/s for speed in excess of 50 km/s.
- Flexible, high bandwidth digital receiver that enables networking with other ground stations to increase the performance of signal reception. The unprocessed received data can also be sent to other stations for further complex analysis.
- Proven in service at ESA Deep Space Ground stations and currently used to support ESA missions such as Gaia, Lisa Pathfinder and Exomars, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) missions such as Dawn.
“BAE Systems has developed a highly precise space communications and tracking system designed to support spacecraft operating both near the Earth and in deep space. The technology receives and converts faint radio signals from spacecraft into data that mission controllers use to monitor and control the spacecraft,” said Nick James, BAE Systems lead engineer for the project.
“The highly flexible system is able to handle differing ESA and NASA requirements and protocols, which makes it an ideal choice to support Goonhilly in future space missions,” he continued.
Goonhilly is about to become the world’s first privately-owned member of the Deep Space Network under a new contract recently announced by ESA and Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership that states Goonhilly will upgrade its largest antenna to meet the exacting requirements for deep space communications, making use of the TTCP technology to achieve these challenging objectives.