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1 Introduction BACKGROUND AND GENERAL OVERVIEW 2. Connections to the broader community. The fo- cus of this criterion was to assess whether there is evidence At the request of NASA, the Aeronautics and Space that the program utilizes appropriate work already done by Engineering Board of the National Research Council (NRC) other agencies outside NASA; out-of-house work; and formed a committee to assess the overall quality of the space interoperability issues associated with other related agencies. communications program of NASA’s Space Operations Mis- 3. Methodology. The focus of this criterion was to sion Directorate (SOMD) and offer findings and recommen- assess how well the program plans are crafted, and the level dations. This review included an examination of internal and of assessments, whether or not risk is properly being man- collaborative activities and an overall peer assessment of aged, and whether near- and longer-term studies are reason- SOMD’s space communications program, which is carried able and justifiable. out by the Space Communications Office (SCO). An over- 4. Overall capabilities. The focus of this criterion is view showing the various program elements of the SCO is to assess the quality of the work compared to similar world- given in Figure 1.1. class efforts and if such work meets the requirements of the The overall objective of SOMD is to “ensure the provi- customers. The committee also explored the qualifications sion of space access and improve it by increasing safety, of NASA and contractor personnel, whether there were suf- reliability and affordability.”1 Accordingly, SOMD provides ficient levels to meet program goals, and the overall state of services for launch, space communications, and rocket pro- program readiness. pulsion testing in support of NASA, other government, and commercial interests. Within SOMD, the SCO’s primary NASA then asked the committee to use the criteria out- objectives are to provide communications and data services lined above to evaluate the following operational networks for every flight mission, with each of the eight elements and other program elements: shown in Figure 1.1 contributing in diverse ways to meeting these objectives. • Operational networks NASA asked the Committee to Review NASA’s Space —Space Network Communications Program to use specific criteria, where ap- —NASA Integrated Services Network (NISN) propriate, as part of its assessment of the SCO program. The • Other program elements specific criteria were outlined in the following four key ar- —Spectrum management eas: —Data standards management —Search and rescue 1. Formulation of the program plan. The focus of —Communications and navigation architecture this criterion was to assess whether the space communica- —Technology development tions program had clearly defined goals and objectives. Does —Operations integration the program reflect a clear understanding of needs and has it articulated these needs to other organizations? Are the space ELEMENTS OF SOMD’S SPACE COMMUNICATIONS communications program services accomplishing program PROGRAM activities, providing sufficient planning, and meeting cus- tomer needs? As previously stated, the primary objectives and out- 7

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8 REVIEW OF THE SPACE COMMUNICATIONS PROGRAM Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD) Space Communications Office Space Communications Program Elements Space NASA Integrated Network (SN) Services Network (NISN) Spectrum Data Search Communications Technology Operations Management Standards and and Navigation Development Integration Management Rescue Architecture Other Major Networks Ground Deep Space Network Network Science Mission Science Mission Directorate Directorate FIGURE 1.1 Space Communications Office (SCO) and its eight program elements. Also shown are two major communications networks that fall outside the SCO. SOURCE: Adapted from the NASA organizational chart, available at http://www.spacecomm.nasa.gov/spacecomm/ about/orgchart.cfm, accessed May 12, 2006. comes of the SCO are to help ensure the provision of space lemetry, command, and data acquisition in support of Space access by providing communications and data services for Shuttle, Space Station, space science, and Earth science mis- every flight mission. As illustrated in Figure 1.1, the SCO at sions. The Space Network consists of a constellation of NASA encompasses eight elements. For convenience, these communications satellites—the Tracking and Data Relay elements are categorized here as either operational networks Satellite System (TDRSS) and a series of tracking stations or other program elements. The operational networks in- to provide tracking and data relay services to NASA, non- clude the Space Network and NASA Integrated Services NASA government, and commercial and international cus- Network, which are focused on providing continuous, near- tomers 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The NASA Inte- global coverage for near-Earth missions, space-based relay grated Services Network provides telecommunications for high-data-rate access, telecommunications services, and services among facilities such as NASA flight support net- administrative communications. The other program ele- works, mission control centers, and science facilities, and it ments support an array of near- and longer-term NASA supplies administrative communications among NASA cen- needs for spectrum management, communications data stan- ters. dards, space-based distress and alerting and locating capa- bilities, and navigation and communications technologies, Other Program Elements along with overall program management and operations in- tegration. Spectrum management is crucial to the successful pur- suit of all NASA missions. All agency flight programs re- quire interference-free access to use of spectrum for com- Operational Networks munications to support launch, orbiting, navigation, The operational networks are the elements of SOMD’s telemetry, control, and sensor activities. Data standards space communications program that provide tracking, te- management facilitates the interoperability of NASA space

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9 INTRODUCTION Communications and Search and Navigation Rescue 2 1 Operations Integration Program Data Standards 3 5 NASA Integrated Services Spectrum Management Network 6 94 Technology 17 Space Network 90 FIGURE 1.2 Annual budget for 2006 (in millions of dollars) for the eight elements of SOMD’s space communications program. SOURCE: Budget data provided by NASA. communications facilities through the use of common data for each of the element areas associated with SOMD’s space standards. In addition, efforts to develop data standards play communications program. an important role internationally in fostering cooperation with other agencies and organizations. NASA is also respon- STUDY APPROACH AND ORGANIZATION sible for research and development for a search and rescue capability. With existing emergency beacons in use world- Figure 1.3 provides an overview of the committee’s wide on aircraft, ships, and individuals, and satellite-aided study purview as it relates to the program elements and their search and rescue contributing to the rescues of humans both various functions described above. The left-hand side of Fig- nationally and internationally, search and rescue continues ure 1.3 represents the primary focus of the committee’s work to be a critical element for NASA. Space communications in assessing the overall quality of the space communications and navigation architecture supports NASA’s current sci- program. To the right of the darkened line are those areas not ence and exploration missions and is focused also on future examined by the committee’s work, as those areas currently exploration. Technology development also supports the fall outside the direct responsibility of the SOMD space com- current and future needs of NASA missions, investing in key munications program. communications and navigation technologies for NASA’s The primary purpose of the committee’s work was to future. The operations integration program element is provide peer assessments that would supply broad program charged with managing communications activities and as- and technical advice to the Space Communications Office suring communications readiness for missions involving and, in so doing, help to ensure that NASA continues “to human spaceflight, focusing on support to the Space Shuttle provide and improve high-quality, reliable, cost-effective and International Space Station programs. space communications networks and services” and to “de- Figure 1.2 provides an overview of the annual budget velop breakthrough information and communication systems

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10 REVIEW OF THE SPACE COMMUNICATIONS PROGRAM Space Operations Study Study Focus On Study Not Focused On Exploration (Communications Architecture) Communications and Ground Network Navigation Architecture Deep Space Network • Ground Network (Interplanetary Communications Architecture) • Earth Relays • Lunar Relays Science Mission Directorate • Mars Relays (Alternate Communications Approaches) Communications TDRSS Technology TDRSS Communications Operations Other Areas TDRSS Replenish Technology F/O Space Network Spectrum (Earth Relays and (Spectrum Ground Stations) Management) Search and Operations Rescue Operations Infrastructure Integration Support Support Programs Data Standards NASA Integrated Service Network (NISN) FIGURE 1.3 Study purview and element areas. to increase NASA’s understanding of scientific data and fer programmatic advice when such advice followed natu- phenomena.”2 In discussions regarding this task, NASA in- rally from technical considerations. dicated that it viewed the charge to the committee as posing The committee met at the National Academies’ Consti- the question, Is NASA doing things right?, rather than, Is tution Avenue Building in Washington, D.C., on January 26- NASA doing the right things? Thus the committee focused 27, 2006, for an overview of the SOMD program and its on determining the effectiveness of the current programs, various elements. Teleconferences and other information- rather than the exploration of alternate program designs. gathering activities followed the first committee meeting. Subgroups of committee members subsequently participated in site visits to Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Approach to the Assessment Maryland, prior to the second committee meeting. The com- The Committee to Review NASA’s Space Communica- mittee met again in Washington, D.C., on March 14-16, tions Office was established by the NRC in December 2005. 2006. The March meeting was followed by additional site Its members included a cross section of senior executives, visits to NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, engineers, researchers, and other aerospace professionals and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. In (see Appendix B). As noted above, the committee was addition, numerous telephone conferences with key points charged with independently assessing the overall program- of contact at NASA were completed, and a review of more matic and technical quality of the SOMD space communica- than 95 related NASA publications, reports, and presenta- tions program. These assessments included findings and rec- tions was conducted. ommendations on NASA’s internal and collaborative During April 18-20, 2006, the committee held a third research, development, and analysis regarding the Opera- meeting at the National Academies’ Beckman Center in tions Network and element areas. While the primary objec- Irvine, California. The focus of this meeting was to reach tive was to conduct peer assessments, the committee did of- consensus on findings, recommendations, and overarching issues and to complete the writing of the final report.

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11 INTRODUCTION Organization of This Report quirements, program management, and overlapping activi- ties. Also presented in Chapter 10 are the committee’s find- This report focuses on two areas of assessment of ings and recommendations on overarching issues. This re- SOMD’s space communications program: (1) the operational port as a whole provides an overview, evaluation, and networks and (2) other elements. Chapters 2 and 3 examine summary of the program elements outlined and assesses the the overall quality of the operational networks and present a overall quality of the space communications program of series of findings and recommendations (where appropriate) NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate. related to the Space Network and the NASA Integrated Ser- vices Network. Chapters 3 to 9 focus on the program’s other NOTES elements, which include spectrum management, data stan- dards management, search and rescue, communications and 1. Spearing, Robert, “Space Communications,” briefing to navigation architecture, technology development, and opera- the NRC Committee to Review NASA’s Space Communications tions integration. In each of these chapters the committee Program, Washington, D.C., January 26-27, 2006. attempts to address those questions in the statement of work 2. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), that are applicable to that element. Chapter 10 looks at re- NASA Strategic Plan, Washington, D.C., 2003.

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