Transmission for the Mission: How telemetry sites are used to relay data for the flight test mission

  • Published
  • By Adam Bowles
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

With the installation of a new antenna at the 5790 Telemetry Site at Edwards Air Force Base, California, we give a closer look on how the 412th Range Squadron are using telemetry sites to relay data from aircraft and how it's being used for the mission.

What is telemetry exactly? 

Telemetry is a process by which measurements are made and collected at remote sites and transmitted for monitoring.  The 5790 TM Site on Edwards AFB is where the ground portion of telemetry for an aircraft mission is held.  When an aircraft is under test, engineers in the Ridley Mission Control Center want to see the data of the aircraft.  Whether it be the engines, control surfaces, whatever system on the aircraft that is important to them; they want to see it in real time.  

Data can be relayed back to Ridley MCC in a matter of seconds.

When the aircraft is flying it will transmit its telemetry radio frequency.  The antennas at the TM site tune to the frequencies and as the aircraft flies around in the local airspace or in other airspaces, they can be tracked and the mission control center can then receive real time mission data. Robert Johnson, JT4/412th Range Squadron, provided another reason why this real time data is so important to be monitored.

"A lot of that is safety of flight," Johnson said. "Aircraft do maneuvers and different things that cause danger to the pilot or the flight crews so they want to see these systems, the life support systems in real time so they can call 'knock it off calls'."

The 412th Range Squadron also has something special: Telemetry Mobile Ground Stations (TMGS) Vans.  They help enhance the mobile capabilities for telemetry to be sent thousands of miles away.

"These vans can deploy anywhere in the world," Johnson explained.  "So different programs will request our service and bring back telemetry, if we can, all the way back to Edwards Air Force Base or we can provide this data to other ranges as well."

For more information on aircraft that uses telemetry and it's purposes click here.