A504 Reentry Radar Abstract


R. Reynolds, G. Rubin, E. Sager, M. Schuetze, J. Zimmerman,
System Planning Corporation, Arlington, VA, 22209 USA,
J. Jost, Aeroflex Incorporated, Powell, OH, 43065, USA,
J. Vila, CNES DLA, Rond Point de l'Espace, 91023 Evry, FRANCE

International Astronautical Federation Paper Number IAA-00-IAA.6.5.09


A new radar system has been designed, developed, and integrated onto a KC-135 aircraft to provide a mobile platform for observing reentry of the Ariane 5 Main Cryogenic Stage (EPC). This system was flown successfully in performing measurements of reentry of the EPC from the Ariane 504 launch occurring on December 10, 1999. This paper describes the program concept as developed by CNES for observation of reentry of this stage and discusses the implementation of the radar system requirements into a specific design. The primary radar in the system is a wide field of view range-Doppler VHF radar developed by System Planning Corporation (SPC). In addition to developing the radar, SPC developed subsystems for situational awareness, data acquisition, and realtime correction of flight azimuth for the pilots.

Although this system is currently being viewed as an instrument to improve the understanding of reentry of the Ariane 5 EPC, it also has the potential to observe reentry of all types of structures associated with launches and, with the associated difficulties, reentry of objects from orbit. This capability has the potential to considerably expand the database on reentry phenomenology, an important issue in reducing uncertainty in the risk associated with reentering space systems.

This paper will provide a description of the radar system parameters and discuss the operations approach. Some data from the reentry observations of the EPC associated with the Ariane 504 launch will be used to illustrate system performance. The paper will also discuss lessons learned from observations of the Ariane 504 EPC and plans for future development.

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