Managing Outer Space from the Ground

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How does it talk to home?

Few things are more magnificent than a spacecraft launching from Earth, but how are these vehicles managed after launch and once in orbit? The answer: space ground stations. Acting as the link between a spacecraft and Earth, the ground station directly supports the operations of a satellite.

Think of ground stations as 24/7 continuous lines of communication between the ground and space. A ground unit can change the orbit of a satellite to travel on a desired path, monitor its health, and most importantly receive intelligence collected by the spacecraft. After all, satellites are launched on missions to collect information, and without a ground station to translate the 1s and 0s, the benefit would be lost.

Ground stations' work doesn’t end with satellites, their large dishes can gather information from other sensors, radars and telescopes, and can communicate with fellow ground systems. Its ability to cross-communicate with several platforms makes it a pivotal part in any decision-maker’s common operating picture.

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New ground stations will be able to operate with greater flexibility than their predecessors.

By deciphering the intelligence from the white noise, ground systems can layer several reports from its moving platform counterparts and bring clarity to an area of interest for policy and decision-makers.

Adding to this already resilient piece of technology is the ability to refresh its technology to keep up with the latest trends. Luckily for a ground station, engineers can easily access and keep it running like a well-oiled machine at a much lower cost than jetting off on a space expedition.

As technology continues to evolve for the 21st Century, ground stations are becoming more multi-functional and effective through modernization. Just as commercial technology becomes more streamlined and advanced, ground stations are managing more satellite missions from central hubs versus traditional stove-pipe models.

Learn more about our work on space ground solutions at lockheedmartin.com/sgs/.

Published April 10, 2015