A key aspect of launch operations is down-range tracking and communication –the tracking of a vehicle by radar along its launch trajectory and the multi-frequency telecommunications links for its control and data communication. There exists today a sophisticated but somewhat hap-hazardly and ad-hoc developed global down-range telemetry network based on the cooperative use of facilities across different nations. During the Cold War and the first Space Race, most of this system was established independently by US and Soviet militaries and has grown with the development of other national space programs and the emergence of the commercial space industry. While post-Soviet history has seen a merging of the two major networks and a spirit of cooperation among most of the nations and industries contributing to this network, this spirit of cooperation cannot be relied on long-term in our politically and economically volatile world and with a commercial space industry so rife with nepotism and corruption. To make matters worse, much of this network has been encumbered by antiquated technology, land-limited facilities locations, and deployment of inefficient systems with function and performance inconsistencies and sometimes complex cross-network integration issues. Consequently, a comprehensive plan for independent space development must consider the possibility of developing a largely independent down-range telemetry network should this prove necessary in the future.
Luckily, for TMP and the Bifrost program Aquarian telecommunications development would offer system platforms that allow for the ready development of a down-range telemetry network in parallel to its own telecommunications systems. Thus we arrive at the notion of a combined Down-Range Telemetry & Telecom Network. (DRT&TN) This facility would consist of a series of equatorial radar and communications stations based on several types of systems platforms and structures.
Marine Settlements: Every Aquarian marine settlement –as well as their associated independent industrial platforms and Equatorial Marine Space Center facilities– will feature its own telecommunications and radar installations. Though employed primarily for the purpose of commercial and domestic communications and the management of local sea and air traffic, these systems would be easily adapted to include telemetry systems. Large marine colonies are likely to employ their own fiber optic submarine trunk lines, linking to both the continents and other colonies in some proximity. These will also be supplemented (only supplemented, due to latency issues) by microwave links to existing commercial satellite networks.
Pylon Stations: First developed and deployed in earlier stages of marine settlement development as a lower-cost alternative to fiber optic cables, tall pylon buoys, anchored or using GPS guided active stationkeeping, employing point-to-point transceivers would be used as high bandwidth wireless communications relays in simple chains. These simple structures have potentially unlimited scalability allowing for the construction of quite large automated radar systems and would be very easy to deploy in large numbers to support a telemetry network while simultaneously providing a vast assortment of navigation and telecommunications services to vessels at sea and in air.
Aerostats: An outgrowth of Aquarian Airship development, telecommunications aerostats would be deployed as a cost-competitive alternative to submarine cable systems for marine colonies –especially in their intermediate migratory stages. As a commercial telecommunications platform alternative to satellites offering vastly greater bandwidth and flexibility, they also represent one of the largest potential sources of revenue for the the GreenStar Aerospace company and the GreenStar Ventures industrial cooperative. While these aerostats may be more complicated to adapt to the use of tracking radar systems owing to the under-slung structures their communications systems would be limited to, they would offer no complication for the integration of relay systems akin to those of the Pylon Stations, their potential use of free-space laser relay links at stratospheric altitude offering a potential for fiber cable bandwidth with less latency than the ad-hoc organization of the terrestrial telecom network.
MUOL Telesats: As Bifrost launch capability develops, it will be able to deploy its own telemetry network systems in space, most likely taking the form of telecom add-ons to Modular Unmanned Orbital Laboratories – MUOL and evolvable telecom satellites based on the MUOL platform technology. Though once considered a marvel of the first Space Age, telecommunications satellites are no longer regarded as the most practical communications platforms owing to the high latency of digital communications when signals must travel more than twice the great distance to GEO to reach points on Earth. Still a primary means of global distribution for ‘streamed’ passive communications such as TV broadcasting, satellite services have proven overpriced, underperforming, and less reliable for active communications for such things as Internet services, where latency is an increasingly critical issue in the use of digital financial systems, live multi-user games, personal voice and video communication, and the use of shared virtual environments. But for communications, tracking, and navigation in space this is less of an issue, the DRT&TN likely to make use of its MUOL based telecom stations as relays for on-orbit and orbit-to-Earth telecommunications. With MUOL, MUOF, EvoHab, and Space Elevator development all relying heavily on tele-operated construction, these satellites and stations are likely to feature far greater bandwidth than has ever been deployed with satellites to date. And, in time, these same facilities are likely to evolve into the first components of the later Asgard Deep Space Telemetry and Telecom Network - DST&TN.
Using these platforms, the Bifrost program would be readily able to deploy a global telemetry network that largely pays for itself in telecommunications services and which could, if necessary, be completely independent of –and superior to– the existing ad hoc mulit-national telemetry network.