Communications systems and support equipment
L-3 Communications Corp.
Communications Systems West
Salt Lake City, UT

NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, CA has chosen L-3 Communications Systems West to provide engineering, technical, and product support services for the center’s operation of two Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. The contract supports Dryden’s planned operation of the two aircraft, their associated ground control station, and related systems. L-3 will be responsible for providing specialized analysis, engineering, functional tests, hardware or software development, or testing that requires specific L-3 proprietary data.

The contract includes re-manufacturing components or equipment and specific operational support related to preflight preparation, mission, flight, and post-flight support. L-3 also will be responsible for supporting deployments of the aircraft to other NASA or customer facilities, and domestic or foreign operational deployment locations.

The autonomously operated Global Hawk aircraft are for use in high-altitude, long-duration Earth science missions. The ability of the Global Hawk to autonomously fly long distances, remain aloft for extended periods of time, and carry large payloads brings a new capability to the science community for measuring, monitoring, and observing remote locations of Earth not feasible or practical with piloted aircraft, most other robotic or remotely operated aircraft, or space satellites.

The aircraft’s 11,000-nautical-mile range and 30-hour endurance, together with satellite and line-of-site communication links to the ground control station, allow for eventual worldwide operation. Dedicated satellite communication links will provide researchers with direct access to their onboard instrument packages during missions. Researchers will have the ability to monitor instrument function from the ground control station and evaluate selected data in real time.

Dryden will use the autonomously operated unmanned aircraft for missions supporting NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and the Earth science community that need high-altitude, long-endurance, long-distance airborne capability.

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the April, 2009 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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