Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

North Dakota UAS Training Center Depends on IGC Satellite Connectivity
by Staff Writers
McLean, VA (SPX) Jul 14, 2017

illustration only

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) have played an important role in the U.S. military's operations in the Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia in recent years, using ever-more-sophisticated on-board sensors and cameras to provide valuable intelligence to troops on the ground. As the UAS technology has evolved, companies serving government customers have introduced a range of non-military applications, from crop and pipeline inspection to international border surveillance and natural disaster monitoring, increasing the market for UAS.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has been developing UAS technologies for nearly 25 years and recently established its Flight Test and Training Center for customer pilots at the Grand Sky commercial UAS business and aviation park in North Dakota. Grand Sky, located on 217 acres adjacent to Grand Forks Air Force Base, is the nation's first UAS facility of its kind, with unmanned aircraft taking off and landing from the base's runways.

The Air Force Base hosts the UAS operations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Grand Forks is also home of the University of North Dakota, a highly respected school for training pilots and for its unmanned-aviation studies program. Operations by GA-ASI, CPB, and the military require the capability to conduct beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) operations.

BLOS operations require a satellite connection both to connect the ground-based pilot to the aircraft and to retrieve data and images collected by on-board sensors. Intelsat General recently signed a one-year contract with GA-ASI to provide bandwidth for flight operations at the North Dakota test center, as well as for the company's UAS operations from its Gray Butte flight operations center in California's Mojave Desert and its facility at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona.

Steve Kelly, Director of the GA-ASI center, said the North Dakota site has some advantages over the company's Southern California facility, one of which is that the airspace is less congested.

The company has been flying its Predator UAS out of the North Dakota air base for several years. The newly established training center there will serve U.S. government customers as well as students from overseas governments and agencies.

Kelly said the operational area used for UAS pilot training is a wedge of airspace extending as far as a 100-mile arc to the northwest of the base. The flights are controlled by a line-of-site command link and BLOS via a 6-meter Ku-band satellite dish that connects to a commercial satellite. GA-ASI has three Predator UAS at the site and is able to fly two simultaneously.

One of the FAA's main concerns about domestic UAS operations is that U.S. airspace is crowded with a wide range of commercial, military and private aircraft. To win FAA approval for the BLOS flights from the North Dakota facility, Grand Sky is installing the Harris RangeVue system that can combine the Air Force Base radar feed and other aircraft position information from FAA flight controllers and other sources into one data stream.

This allows pilots on training flights of the Predator UAS to have full situational awareness of all manned and unmanned aircraft in or near the flight operations area. The Northern Plains UAS Test Site recently received FAA approval to move forward in a two-phased approach using RangeVue that will ultimately allow BLOS flights without requiring a manned chase plane to continually observe the UAS.

In addition, Kelly said GA-ASI is currently working with the FAA, NASA and several industry partners to develop standards and test an on-board detect-and-avoid (DAA) system for Predator that provides an electronic means to meet the FAA's DAA Phase I requirements.

DAA is a key capability for full integration of UAS into the FAA's National Airspace System. A prototype DAA system has been flying since 2014 and provided the empirical flight data in support of the standards that were released in May.

In the future, when a plane is equipped with such a certified system, the on-board platform will provide the "pilot-in-the-loop" alerts and guidance to remain clear of a conflict, including vertical automatic aircraft maneuvers to avoid a potential collision.

Kelly said the pilots going through the training typically have flown hundreds of hours in commercial or military aircraft. The 90-day training curriculum can be tailored to fit the experience and needs of the individual pilots. They use a classroom and a flight simulator at the University of North Dakota campus, then go to Grand Sky for flight sessions that usually last from two to four hours.

However, the aircraft onsite are capable of flying for 24 hours at a time. In addition, the GA-ASI center trains the men and women who operate the sensors on the UAS. At the center, they learn to operate the optical, infrared and other sensors on the aircraft that collect the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data from the ground.

"The market for UAS operations is continuing to grow," said Kelly. "The world just cannot get enough ISR capability, and our training facility will help us meet the demand for pilots and payload operators of these systems."

Northrop Grumman receives Australian satellite ground station contract
Washington (UPI) Jul 11, 2017
Northrop Grumman has received a $170 million contract from the Australian Defense Force for a ground station for it's military satellite communications program, the company announced on Monday. The contract provides for the next phase of the Joint Project 2008 program to establish integrated wideband satellite communications across the Australian miltary. Northrop Grumman will te ... read more

Related Links
Intelsat General
Read the latest in Military Space Communications Technology at

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

In Gulf of Mexico, NASA Evaluates How Crew Will Exit Orion

Space Tourist From Asian Country to Travel to ISS in 2019

NASA Awards Mission Systems Operations Contract

ULA to launch Dream Chaser for cargo runs to ISS for Sierra Nevada

Elon Musk says successful maiden flight for Falcon Heavy unlikely

Russia to Supply Largest Ever Number of Space Rocket Engines to US This Year

ISRO Develops Ship-Based Antenna System to Track Satellite Launches

Aerojet Rocketdyne tests Advanced Electric Propulsion System

Panorama Above 'Perseverance Valley'

Sol 1756: Closing time

Hubble sees Martian moon orbiting the Red Planet

Curiosity Mars Rover Begins Study of Ridge Destination

China develops sea launches to boost space commerce

Chinese satellite Zhongxing-9A enters preset orbit

Chinese Space Program: From Setback, to Manned Flights, to the Moon

Chinese Rocket Fizzles Out, Puts Other Launches on Hold

LISA Pathfinder: bake, rattle and roll

ASTROSCALE Raises a Total of $25 Million in Series C Led by Private Companies

Korean Aerospace offices raided in anti-corruption probe

Iridium Poised to Make Global Maritime Distress and Safety System History

Cleanup Time: Russia Launches Satellite to Remove Space Junk from Orbit

Spacepath Communications Announces Innovative Frequency Converter Systems

Sorting complicated knots

Nature-inspired material uses liquid reinforcement

Eyes Wide Open for MASCARA Exoplanet Hunter

Ancient worm burrows offer insights into early 'ecosystem engineers'

Molecular Outflow Launched Beyond Disk Around Young Star

A New Search for Extrasolar Planets from the Arecibo Observatory

NASA's New Horizons Team Strikes Gold in Argentina

Juno spots Jupiter's Great Red Spot

New Horizons Video Soars over Pluto's Majestic Mountains and Icy Plains

New evidence in support of the Planet Nine hypothesis

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement