Melissa Mathews/Allard Beutel
March 3, 2005
NASA Technology Supports Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer
NASA congratulates the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer experimental aircraft team on its first-of-a-kind flight.
NASA technology contributed to the safety and success of the mission by enhancing communications between pilot Steve Fossett and his ground control team. NASA's real-time video hookup allowed aviation enthusiasts around the globe to follow the landmark flight.
GlobalFlyer landed safely today in Salina, Kan. after the first solo, non-stop, non-refueled around-the-world airplane trip. The flight tested NASA's advanced experimental Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) transceiver called the Low Power Transceiver (LPT). As a side benefit, the NASA device allowed GlobalFlyer's mission control to communicate with Fossett for almost three days of flight through a live video connection.
"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 on the Personal Cabin Pressure Monitor on the Web, visit:
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 about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:
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