Automated coordination of a large number of rocket launches with air and maritime transport
Increasing space activities
The increasing commercialisation of spaceflight, often referred to as ‘New Space’, will lead to significantly more launches of spacecraft in the future. In the current decade alone, more than 15,000 new satellites are expected to be launched. Many of these satellites will be used for communications, navigation or Earth observation. Some of these satellites, especially those in low Earth orbit, will have to be replaced regularly to ensure continuity of operations. Launching the satellites at short notice and from different locations will require automated processes, in both the preparation and implementation phases of the missions.
Launch Coordination Center – from ground to space
For this purpose, the DLR Institute of Flight Guidance in Braunschweig is setting up a Launch Coordination Center (LCC). Acting as a demonstrator, the LCC is intended to show how a large number of launches and re-entries can be safely and flexibly coordinated with air transport and maritime navigation activities in the future. It will assist and support missions from planning through to real-time monitoring and evaluation.
The Institute is developing a planning component and a flight management component that will monitor missions from launch through airspace to the interface with space operations, where they will become the responsibility of a space control centre – DLR’s German Space Operations Center (GSOC), for example. Among other things, the planning component will optimise integration into air traffic operations and support logistics at the spaceport – for example, for handling payloads and propellants before and after the mission.
The LCC will be compatible with all types of rockets, spacecraft and mission variants during launch and landing and will optimise the use of airspace as a limited resource. This will be all the more important if – as predicted – the number of launches increases in Europe.
Supervisor workstation in the Launch Coordination Center