NRL’s Blossom Point Tracking Facility Provides Command and Control for Space Development Agency Tranche 0 Mission Launch 2

BLOSSOM POINT, MD, Sept. 02, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Blossom Point Tracking Facility (BPTF) provides command and control (C2) for the Space Development Agency (SDA) Tranche 0 (T0) mission Launch 2.
The 13 satellites launching aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket are provided to the mission from commercial companies SpaceX, York Space Systems, and Lockheed Martin, and will join the 10 satellites already deployed in Launch 1 as part of the inaugural Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA) to demonstrate the low-latency communication links to support the warfighter with a resilient network of integrated capabilities.
“NRL’s Blossom Point facility is ideally suited to solve the incredibly challenging command and control of this constellation,” said Dr. Steven Meier, director of the Naval Center for Space Technology at NRL. “Our small and agile team provides space system mission management for government and commercial customer classes in every orbit regime.”
BPTF employs NRL’s Neptune C2 Software to automate ground resource monitoring and satellite tracking, telemetry, and commanding (TT&C). Neptune runs at more than 10 ground stations and operation facilities providing command and control for a diverse set of missions at all classification levels and can be interfaced with any mission-planning system and provide data to any payload data-processing system.
“All of the ground components are in pools of equipment and when a contact time comes up, it dynamically allocates all of those pieces in concert,” said Joshua Brooks, site manager of the Blossom Point Tracking Facility. “Neptune monitors all the components from the antennas to the workstations where our people are interacting with the system and is capable of swapping components in and out as needed as it executes the schedule of satellite contacts.”
The C2 challenge is in communicating with different type of satellites from different commercial providers, used for both communications and early missile warning systems, all in the same constellation.

The resulting lessons learned from the T0 mission will result in subsequent tranches with hundreds, if not thousands, of interoperable satellites in an adaptable, flexible, and persistent constellation.

In addition to C2, NRL’s Virtual Mission Management (VMOC) is used to manage a payloads’ planning and tracking. VMOC is a space-qualified, government-owned, cloud-based satellite mission planning framework providing offline and real-time mission planning capabilities through a web-based system. 
“Neptune and VMOC function seamlessly together,” said Annie Lum, NRL Tranche 0 Lean Program Manager. “Neptune keeps us in contact with the satellites and VMOC ensures the constellation is able to function together to include the ability to detect and track missiles with the Tracking layer and command and mission data transmission through the Transport layer.”
“This program demonstrates a critical partnership between government and industry that empowers U.S. space interoperability and provides our nation the advanced capabilities to guarantee our free and unfettered access to space,” said Meier.
About the Blossom Point Tracking Facility 
The Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Blossom Point Tracking Facility (BPTF) is the nation’s first satellite tracking facility. BPTF provides command, control, communications, network engineering, and management of new and on-orbit assets. BPTF provides a unique operational concept that utilizes full automation and enables lights-out satellite operations. BPTF supports spacecraft operations in all orbit regimes. BPTF complements and supports NRL’s skills in space systems by providing compatibility testing, pre-launch, launch, and post-launch support, flight operations, and mission data processing.
About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C., with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, Key West, Florida, and Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.
For more information, contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or [email protected].

NRL Corporate Communications
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
(202) 480-3746
[email protected]

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