The Near Earth Network (NEN, formerly GN or Ground Network) provides orbital communications support for near-Earth orbiting customer platforms via various ground stationns, operated by NASA and other space agencies. It uses a number of different dishes scattered around the globe. The antennas must be able to move fast for tracking of objects in low earth orbit (LEO). The NEN and SN combined were previously referred to as the Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network (STDN).
NEN uses several stations run by NASA:
- Alaska Satellite Facility in Fairbanks, Alaska— Supports: S/X Band — Assets: 11.3m/11m/9.1m
- Kennedy Uplink Station, Merritt Island Launch Annex (MILA)— Supports: S-band - Assets: 6.1m
- McMurdo, Antarctica— Supports: S/X Band — Assets: 10m
- Ponce de Leon Station, Florida — Supports: S-band - Assets: 6.1m
- Wallops Ground Station, in Wallops Island, Virginia— Supports: VHF, S/X Band — Assets: 11m/5m
- White Sands Ground Station, New Mexico — Supports: VHF, S/Ka Band — Assets: 18.3m
NEN uses Stations run by KSAT — Kongsberg Satellite Services:
- Singapore, Malaysia — Supports: S/X Band — Assets: 9.1m
- Svalbard Satellite Station Norway — Supports: S/X Band — Assets: 11.3m/11.3m/13m
- TrollSat, Antarctica — Supports: S/X Band — Assets: 7.3m/7.3m
NEN uses a Station run by SANSA — South African National Space Agency:
- Hartebeesthoek, South Africa — Supports: S/X Band — Assets: 12m/10m
NEN uses Stations run by SSC — Swedish Space Corporation
- Kiruna, Sweden — Supports: S/X Band — Assets: 13m/13m
- Santiago, Chile— Supports: S Band — Assets: 9m/12m/13m
- Space US North Pole, Alaska— Supports: S/X Band — Assets: 5m/7.3m/11m/13m
- SSC Space US Dongara, Australia — Supports: S/X Band — Assets: 13m
- Space US South Point, Hawai — Supports: S/X Band — Assets: 13m/13m
Authority and responsibility
The NEN falls under NASA's SOMD (Space Operations Mission Directorate), interoperating with the SCaN Program offices. The Goddard Space Flight Center Ground Network Project has responsibility for maintaining the NEN, as well as implementing the Satellite laser ranging (SLR) Network.
Support for Constellation
The NEN was slated to support the Constellation Program, including the Ares launch vehicle, NISN (NASA Integrated Services Network), FDF (Flight Dynamics Facilities), KSC Launch Control Center, and the Constellation Mission Control Center (MCC). Constellation has since been canceled.
- Deep Space Network (DSN)
- Eastern Range (ER)
- Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN)
- Space Communications and Navigation Program (SCaN)
- Space Network (SN)
- Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)
- NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Exploration and Space Communications Projects Division (August 2007). Space Network User's Guide (SNUG), 2.4, Supporting Elements Outside the SN, (e), "Ground Network (GN)" (Rev 9 ed.). National Aeronautics and Space Administration. p. 2.13. 450-SNUG.
- Constellation Architecture Requirements Document (CARD), CxP 70000, Revision C (December 25, 2008). NASA: Constellation Systems Engineering and Integration Office
- Space Network User's Guide (SNUG), 450-SNUG, Rev 9.
- NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Near Earth Network Official Page