VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Multiple Team V agencies recently assisted in the preparation and deployment of a Spacecraft for High Accuracy Radar Calibration, also known as SHARC.
The SHARC payload, a cubesat, was launched on board an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. en route to the International Space Station, April 18. Approximately a month later, the SHARC deployed from the ISS, May 17, and is now in orbit.
“The primary purpose of SHARC is to act as a proof-of-concept for new hardware, data downlink path, and data processing to prepare for a longer orbit duration for the Space-Based Satellite Calibration Program,” said Martin Prochazka, Range Generation Next Radar Performance Monitoring administrator.
Space Test Program coordinated the launch, and the Air Force Research Laboratory assembled, tested, and manifested the cubesat on an ISS resupply cargo run before operating the satellite.
The SHARC project is supported by key agencies on Vandenberg, including members of the 30th Range Management Squadron, and the Launch and Test Range System Integrated Support Contractor, RGNext.
“Our contribution to the vehicle preparation included setting payload specifications, procuring hardware, testing and delivering the C-Band transponder, GPS, and their associated antenna,.” said Adam Krebs, LISC RPM engineer.
Prochazka and Krebs are part of the RPM group that provided SHARC’s primary payload technical services and hardware. The RPM program is primarily used for radar calibration and performance monitoring by 11 ranges – including the 30th Space Wing.
The primary goal of the Space-Based Satellite Program is to provide continued national security.
“The Space-Based Satellite Calibration Program is a Department of Defense-level program led by the 30th Space Wing,” said Steven Daly, 30th RMS RPM program manager. “Orbital satellites with high accuracy position information are by far the most accurate way to calibrate high accuracy radar systems over a wide range of vehicle dynamics. The range radars both on Florida’s Space Coast and here at Vandenberg verify tracking accuracies using these satellites. In addition to the Air Force Space Command radars, radars across the DoD test ranges, ships at sea, and remote operating areas are provided access to the satellite and truth data. This capability is crucial because our only operational Radar Calibration satellite in orbit is DMSP-15, which is well beyond its useful life and will likely de-orbit or go out of operation soon. The ultimate objective is to continue to provide the nation with a high accuracy program that can be utilized from any location on the planet.”
The SHARC is estimated to spend six months in orbit, during which time the collected data will be accessible to radar operators and analysts.
“SHARC is currently undergoing system checkouts, and we are anxious to start using it,” said Prochazka. “Data will be downloaded using the Globalstar satellite constellation and ground radios. It will then be processed and made available to users.”