The Near Space Network (NSN) is more than just an aggregation of the Near Earth Network’s and Space Network’s space-based technologies, ground stations and antennas; it’s the network through which NASA and other space users will now arrange for support services for their near-Earth missions which include direct-to-Earth services and relay capabilities. Critically, those support services may be provisioned through government or commercial network assets in a way that is seamless to users—a cornerstone in SCaN’s effort to incorporate increasing levels of commercial service while ensuring mission needs are met.
The NSN provides telemetry, commanding, ground-based tracking, data and communications services to a wide range of customers with satellites:
- in low Earth orbit (LEO)
- geosynchronous orbit (GEO)
- highly elliptical orbit (HEO)
- lunar orbit
In addition, the NSN consists of a constellation of geosynchronous (Earth orbiting) satellites named the Tracking Data Relay Satellite (TDRS), operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year. These assets provide continuous global coverage to NASA missions in LEO and to launch vehicles during their launch and ascent phase, including every launch of a U.S. Government satellite. Support is also provided to missions in HEO when the orbit brings the spacecraft within range.