GlobalFlyer mission used NASA communications tools

WASHINGTON, D.C., 3 March 2005. GlobalFlyer pilot Steve Fossett communicated with his ground control team throughout his round-the-world flight this week using NASA technology.

WASHINGTON, D.C., 3 March 2005. GlobalFlyer pilot Steve Fossett communicated with his ground control team throughout his round-the-world flight this week using NASA technology.

The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer landed safely today in Salina, Kan. after the first solo, non-stop, non-refueled, around-the-world airplane trip. Fossett tested NASA's advanced experimental Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) transceiver, called the Low Power Transceiver (LPT).

As a side benefit, the device allowed GlobalFlyer's mission control to communicate with Fossett for almost three days of flight through a live video connection. NASA's real-time video hookup allowed aviation enthusiasts around the globe to follow the landmark flight.

"We at NASA applaud private sector record-setting achievements like this one. NASA is committed to increasing its engagement with entrepreneurs and industry alike in pursuit of the Vision for Space Exploration," said NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Operations, William Readdy. "We're proud of our very talented, dedicated people and cutting-edge technologies and look forward to even more partnering in the future."

NASA researchers believe the LPT holds promise as a flexible and less expensive option for relaying information to and from spacecraft. TDRSS already supports space operations by providing uninterrupted data relay and communications between orbiting spacecraft and the ground.

In testing the LPT on GlobalFlyer, NASA hopes to learn more about how the device operates during flight, especially when transmitting video. Four NASA facilities -- Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.; Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; and the White Sands Test Facility, N.M. -- contributed technology to the video project and monitored the GlobalFlyer mission.

NASA also loaned GlobalFlyer its Personal Cabin Pressure Monitor, which alerts a pilot of potentially dangerous or deteriorating cabin pressure. Because Fossett's cockpit was exceedingly loud, too loud for an alarm, the device was modified to vibrate to signal a problem. For more information on the Personal Cabin Pressure Monitor on the Web, see www.nasa.gov/missions/research/inventor_award_0727.html.

The Vision for Space Exploration is an affordable, stepping-stone strategy toward new exploration goals. Return to Flight of the Space Shuttle and completing the International Space Station are the first steps. Using the Station to study human endurance in space and to test new technologies and techniques, NASA will prepare for longer journeys to the moon, Mars and beyond. For more information, see www.nasa.gov.

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