Press Release

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Has Vital Role in Shuttle’s Return to Flight

By SpaceRef Editor
July 8, 2005
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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Has Vital Role in Shuttle’s Return to Flight

When Discovery roars off the launch pad next week on the first Space Shuttle mission in almost two and a half years, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. will provide key communication and tracking support. In addition, tools developed at Goddard that are based on experience gained in four service calls to the Hubble Space Telescope, will be onboard and ready for use by spacewalking astronauts should the Shuttle sustain damage and require repairs.

From liftoff through landing, the astronauts aboard Discovery along with the thousands of people supporting the flight at ground stations depend on Goddard personnel to manage complex communications between the Space Shuttle and Earth.  The system, known as the Spaceflight Tracking Data Network, allows NASA to monitor Shuttle systems, send flight commands and navigation instructions, relay scientific data, support voice communications from astronauts to mission control and send video and television feeds. 

As the Shuttle orbits the Earth, the Goddard team monitors and continually adjusts the communication pathways to ensure that command, tracking, telemetry, video, and voice communications are clear and secure.

Communication antennas don’t just automatically lock on the Shuttle and follow the spacecraft where it goes. Goddard’s Flight Dynamics Facility updates the network regularly on the Shuttle location.

The Hubble Space Telescope Extravehicular Activities Team at Goddard built tools that the crew could use to make in-flight repairs to the Shuttle if necessary.  The team also developed a prototype for an extravehicular infrared camera that will check the Shuttle’s wings for damages.

SpaceRef staff editor.