Air Force Overhauling Launch Ranges in Florida, California

Pentagon Explores Launch Range Improvements
Aviation Week

U.S. Air Force officials are crafting plans for a 2011 demonstration of a Global Positioning System-tracking system for ascending rockets as part of a slow but comprehensive transformation of the Pentagon’s launch ranges.

More than 50 years into the U.S. space launch program, the infrastructure designed to support rockets in some cases requires updating. In other cases, the government needs to off-load excess infrastructure that is no longer needed and focus efforts on more efficient satellite launch processing, says Lt. Gen. Larry James, 14th Air Force commander.

The demonstration planned for 2011 is intended to prove the value of GPS metric tracking of launch vehicles as they boost into orbit. Currently, launches are tracked using radars and some optical systems. “Once you can do [GPS metric tracking] reliably, it allows you to reduce some of your on-ground resources that we currently use for tracking,” says James. He declined to identify a specific launch for the demonstration.

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