A General Dynamics-led team successfully completed on-schedule the implementation, integration and test of the NASA Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) program Increment A3, the Bearer Network and Basic Ground Terminal hardware and software. This increment includes the capability for receiving and transmitting mission data across the Space Network and includes telemetry and control for the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) second-generation satellites. SGSS is NASA’s next-generation, completely digital ground system that will keep the NASA Space Network operating efficiently for the next 30 years by replacing legacy analog radios and communications equipment. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the program.

The development, integration and testing for Increment A3 took place at General Dynamics’ new SGSS development and test laboratory located in Scottsdale, Ariz. Built to the specifications of a NASA Space Network ground station, every piece of software and hardware used for SGSS will be rigorously tested in the SGSS lab in conditions that simulate day-to-day operations that take place in a live ground system station. The lab can also connect remotely to existing NASA Space Network ground stations.

“The new SGSS lab provides NASA with an extremely efficient and cost-effective path to Space Network ground system modernization,” said Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics Mission Systems. “Testing all of the SGSS ground system elements in the ‘real-life’ ground station environment will also streamline the integration of the new digital system as it replaces the legacy Space Network system that is decades old.”

Increment A4, the Functional Ground Terminal Space Network Operations Center, is the next SGSS increment to transition on schedule from the development phase into the system integration and testing phase at the Scottsdale lab. Increment A4 completes Tracking, Telemetry and Control for TDRSS generation one and three satellites, high data rate communication relay modes and remaining capability for a fully functional Ground Terminal. Upcoming program increments will complete the remaining SGSS ground terminal capabilities.

The new SGSS ground system architecture will ensure the Space Network will continue to provide global space-to-ground telecommunications and tracking coverage for Earth orbit and near-Earth space flight missions. Operating out of the White Sands Complex in New Mexico and TDRSS Ground Terminals in Guam and Blossom Point, Maryland, the new system will have the capacity to increase network capabilities that will be needed for future space missions by accommodating larger quantities of data and higher data rates. One of the key design criteria for the SGSS system is to reduce maintenance and operational costs for the NASA Space Network.

General Dynamics is collaborating on the contract with a team of small and large businesses with extensive NASA experience, including Harris Corporation of Melbourne, Fla.; MetiSpace Technologies of Rockville, Md.; Rincon Research Corporation of Tucson, Ariz.; a.i. Solutions of Lanham, Md.; RT Logic of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Qwaltec of Tempe, Ariz.

General Dynamics (GD) combined the resources of Advanced Information Systems and C4 Systems as General Dynamics Mission Systems on January 1, 2015. For more information about General Dynamics Mission Systems, please visit gdmissionsystems.com and follow us on Twitter @GDMS.