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Space


Deep Space Tracking

Reference has already been made to sea-based tracking in support not only of Earth orbital missions, but deep space flights as well. In the case of the United States , NASA saw a need for 24-hour world-wide coverage to support its deep space operations. It first built 25.9-meter steer able dishes at Goldstone, California , and in Australia , South Africa , and Spain , and these were followed by 64-meter dishes for Goldstone. Australia , and Spain .

The Soviet Union could profit from a similar worldwide capability, but has not achieved the same level of coverage. Its equivalent of Goldstone is at Yevpatoriya in the Crimea , once visited by Sir Bernard Lovell of British Jodrell Bank fame. The design approach used by the Russians has been different from the American approach. They seem to have two principal sets of antennas, each consisting of a single steer able mount carrying eight medium sized dishes arranged in banks of four. By operating these mounts along a railroad track, they can serve as interferometers. One would think it logical that there be a second installation in the Soviet Far East to expand their coverage, but if there is such a major station, it has not been revealed.

Beyond that, they rely on such devices as the three largest of their tracking ships which may take turns serving in the Caribbean area to extend Soviet deep space coverage. The only other Soviet recourse is to rely upon automatic systems in their deep space craft, or if more nearly real time data and commands must be exchanged, to plan their missions to have crucial events take place when that part of the world containing the U.S.S.R. faces toward the distant spacecraft.

DEEP SPACE TRACKING 1976-1980

Reference has already been made to sea-based tracking in support not only of Earth orbital missions, but deep space flights as well. In the case of the United States, NASA saw a need for 24-hour worldwide coverage to support its deep space operations. It first built 25.9-meter steerable dishes at Goldstone, Calif., and in Australia, South Africa, and Spain, and these were followed by 64-meter dishes for Goldstone, Australia, and Spain.

The Soviet Union could profit from a similar worldwide capability, but has not achieved the same level of coverage. Its equivalent of Goldstone is at Yevpatoriya in the Crimea, once visited by Sir Bernard Lovell, former director of the Jodrell Bank Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories in England. The design approach used by the Russians has been different from the American approach. They seem to have two principal sets of antennas, each consisting of a single steerable mount carrying eight medium sized dishes arranged in banks of four. By operating these mounts along a railroad track, they could serve as an interferometer system. On the other hand, pictures show the antennae with two different types of feed. In one they have a Cassegrain system with a wide feed horn which can be used for frequencies as low as the UHF range which includes those close to 920 MHz employed by Luna and Venera probes. The other has a prime-focus feed connected to the receiver room by a narrow wave guide suggesting the frequencies in the 3.8-6.0 GHz bands used by Venera probes. Although both types of feed have not been discerned simultaneously in photographs, it may be that they are used in such a manner for different frequency ranges to provide system redundancy on the ground to insure a reliable data link. One would think it logical that there be a second installation in the Soviet Far East to expand their coverage, but if there is such a major station, it has not been revealed.

Beyond that, they rely on such devices as the three largest of their tracking ships which may take turns serving in the Caribbean area to extend Soviet deep space coverage. The only other Soviet recourse is to rely upon automatic systems in their deep space craft, or if more nearly real time data and commands must be exchanged, to plan their missions to have crucial events take place when that part of the world containing the U.S.S.R. faces toward the distant spacecraft.

Radio observations of Soviet telemetry transmissions made by amateurs in the West indicate the use of widely different frequency bands and differing modulation methods. Despite this, a high degree of standardization has been achieved. A limited set of modulation methods is used and distinct groups of carrier frequencies are employed. The combinations of modulation and frequency are numerous by virtue of the sheer size of the program. This standardization is typical of other components in Soviet spacecraft and is reminiscent of the standardization subsystem designs imposed by centralized engineering organizations serving individual design bureaus of the Soviet aviation industry. A high degree of standardization helps keep system development costs down but tends to produce some sluggishness in the overall program by the centralized introduction of new technology and innovations. However, standardization commits lengthy production runs helping to offset the slow innovation rates inherent in too stringently imposed standardization.

References:

1. SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS, 1971-75, OVERVIEW, FACILITIES AND HARDWARE MANNED AND UNMANNED FLIGHT PROGRAMS, BIOASTRONAUTICS CIVIL AND MILITARY APPLICATIONS PROJECTIONS OF FUTURE PLANS, STAFF REPORT , THE COMMITTEE ON AERONAUTICAL AND SPACE .SCIENCES, UNITED STATES SENATE, BY THE SCIENCE POLICY RESEARCH DIVISION CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, VOLUME – I, AUGUST 30, 1976, GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON : 1976,

A. SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS: 1976-80, SUPPORTING VEHICLES AND LAUNCH VEHICLES, POLITICAL GOALS AND PURPOSES, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN SPACE, ADMINISTRATION, RE-SOURCE BURDEN, FUTURE OUTLOOK PREPARED AT THE REQUEST OF HON. BOB PACKWOOD, Chairman, COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION, UNITED STATES SENATE, Part 1, Dec. 1982.



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