PAE: U.S. Air Force Eastern Range
PAE Helps Usher in New Era of Human Space Exploration
The next generation of human spaceflight has begun, and CSR, a PAE-managed joint venture, provided essential support for NASA’s initial Constellation Program test launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
CSR supplied range services and technical support for the successful Oct. 28, 2009, launch of the Ares I-X booster vehicle. It was an important first step in NASA’s efforts to replace the space shuttle and return astronauts to the moon.
CSR, a joint venture between PAE and Raytheon Technical Services, helped develop the Ares I-X mission plans for the Eastern Range, a rocket range that supports missile launches and space flights from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
CSR also provided real-time radar and optical tracking and telemetry data collection for the launch and splashdown. On launch day, a team of about 150 CSR personnel operated the Eastern Range’s integrated communications, command and control systems and performed real-time weather observations.
Responsive Range Services
The Ares I-X flight demonstrated the basic design and aerodynamic performance of the booster rocket that will be used as NASA’s primary launch platform for the next generation of human spaceflight. Extensive flight data was collected from the mission. It is being used to improve the design and safety of the next crew launch vehicle, which NASA hopes to send into orbit by 2014.
The mission also provided an opportunity to test and prove the range capability for the new era in spaceflight. Michael M. Maier, CSR vice president and general manager says, “This successful mission demonstrates our ability to provide responsive range services for the new launch systems under development, while ensuring a high degree of range safety and excellent technical performance.”
Due to the developmental nature of the test flight, there were many late-breaking changes in mission requirements. The PAE-led team was able to accelerate production of the range instrumentation plans, which were completed in just 20 days instead of the standard 50 days.
Maier says, “We have made great progress in terms of range technology and planning processes and these advances were put to the test for Ares I-X.”
Ground Tracking Systems Success
As part of the Eastern Range Technical Services Contract with the U.S. Air Force, the PAE-led CSR team provides range support for all scientific, national security, and commercial launch operations from Cape Canaveral or the NASA Kennedy Space Center.
Our support also includes tracking, real-time range safety data processing, command and control, range surveillance, meteorological services and the communications networking to integrate the range systems and provide effective management of the Eastern Range and communications with range customers.
Much of this work requires adapting commercial technologies to the exacting standards required for space launch operations. For example, CSR personnel provided NASA with high-resolution wind profiles in the launch area every 60 minutes to ensure that air loads on the Ares vehicle were within acceptable limits prior to launch. These profiles are quality controlled by a CSR meteorologist to ensure the vehicle is not exposed to any unexpected wind shears or that measurement errors don’t inadvertently lead to a launch delay.
Unprecedented String of Launches
Under the direction of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, CSR operates range systems that cover over 15 million square miles of the Atlantic Ocean extending from Cape Canaveral to Ascension Island, more than 5,000 miles downrange. CSR has served as Eastern Range prime contractor since 1988. During that time, more than 450 launches have been completed, including an unprecedented string of 205 consecutive countdowns over a seven-year period without a launch scrub due to CSR-operated and maintained equipment.
● Eastern Range, FL
Southern California Offshore Range, CA
Patuxent "Pax" River, MD
Atlantic Undersea Test Eval Center, FL
Kodiak Launch Complex, AK
Ballistic Missile Range Safety Technology, FL
Air Force Satellite Control Network, Multiple Loc.