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Space


Communications Need

Space operations require extensive support from Earth, including not only a launch pad with its associated assembly and checkout equipment, but also down range guidance and command, tracking, and other communications links. After the payload is in orbit, then tracking is useful for keeping posted on it and on all other objects in space, and for commands to the payload and receipt of data gathered or observed by the payload.

The Soviet Union may have started its space program with a curious mixture of very ambitious and comprehensive plans for use of large vehicles which could perform many missions in Earth orbit and beyond, combined with minimal support on the ground in terms of varieties of hardware, limited number of pads, and minimal communications links.

It is very likely that the early launch guidance was primarily by radio, radar and optical means because of the pattern of flying down the same corridor repetitively from Tyuratam; indeed this may still be true for many space launches, simply with more radio and theodolite tracking stations being added along additional corridors. This is suggested by the fact that vehicles which almost certainly must come from different launch pads, added when new types of vehicles were added, fly on inclinations that vary from the earlier standard ones only by an amount compatible with passing near some down range tracking points in about the same relationship as vehicles launched from the original pads.

Minimal ground support would permit the start of a program, but as needs to exploit the potential of space for science and applications grow, then more is required in Earth-based facilities.

TRACKING AND DATA RELAY SYSTEM

Details of an Eastern Satellite Data Relay Network [ESDRN] lodged with the International Frequency Registration Board in 1981 show that the Soviets intend to operate a system employing frequencies of 10.82, 11.32, 13.7, and 13.52 GHz for downlink and 14.62 and 15.05 GHz for uplink (similar to the American TDRSS) for communicating with Salyut stations and other spacecraft operating in low Earth orbit. The date for the commencement of operation was given as "no sooner than December 1985." Figure 1, prepared by Sven Grahn, is an interpretation of the IFRB information.

It may well be that the experimental SHF Kosmos 1366 was a development flight related to this proposed system and that the mysterious Kosmos 1426 and Kosmos 1516 satellites, from which the Kettenng Group failed to detect transmissions, were operating with Kosmos 1366 in a TDRSS-type mode. Kosmos 1426 flew in an orbit very similar to that of a Salyut space station and, indeed, came very close to a rendezvous with Salyut 7 at the beginning of 1983 and would have been well suited to simulating a Salyut mission. During the flight of Kosmos 1516 at the end of 1983, Kosmos 1366 was stationed at 80° from where it could have relayed data from Kosmos 1516 while it was over America.

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,

 



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Page last modified: 15-05-2016 20:06:26 ZULU