ISU to Study Placing Transponders on Commercial Space Vehicles

The FAA and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) are in discussions with the International Space University (ISU) on conducting a study on the need for beacons or transponders on commercial space vehicles, officials revealed this week.

The study is likely to be conducted as a Team Project during the 2012 Space Studies Summer Program, which is being co-housed by the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Approximately 40 students from about 20 countries cight participate in the project.


In a presentation to the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) this week, agency officials John Sloan and Megan Mitchell said the study would include the following:

  • Is a beacon or transponder needed for safety reasons?
  • Is it practical from a commercial and government perspective?
  • Orbital, suborbital, reentry and upper stages
  • Interviews with commercial vehicle providers.

The FAA presented the beacon study proposal to the IAF Commercial Space Flight Safety Committee in March during which ISU offered to help. ISU President Michael Simpson has been working on scoping out the nature of the study.