WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Showcasing NASA's long-standing partnership with Bermuda in support of human spaceflight and space exploration, NASA formally dedicated its upgraded Bermuda Tracking Station Monday, Nov. 5, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the station's site on Cooper's Island Nature Reserve.
"Bermuda has long been a vital strategic partner to NASA going back to the earliest days of human spaceflight," said United States Consul General Constance Dierman. "Today's dedication ceremony further strengthens that partnership in support of NASA's goals to take the next giant leap in exploration and discovery."
The site, refurbished as part of a $5.3 million renovation and outfitting project, supports tracking, telemetry, command and control of launches from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
"Our Bermuda Tracking Station will provide critical launch support for missions from the Wallops and Eastern Ranges as we look forward to sending humans to the Moon and forge ahead to Mars and beyond," said Sam Scimemi, director of the International Space Station division at NASA Headquarters.
Most notably, the tracking station, operated by NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, supports International Space Station cargo resupply missions and will support upcoming commercial crew launches to the orbital laboratory and NASA's upcoming integrated launches of the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft on missions to the Moon. Additional launches the station will support include NASA's upcoming Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite launch, Minotaur launches and slated flights of Rocket Lab's Electron launch vehicle from Wallops.
"As operations increase from both the Wallops and Eastern Ranges, the Bermuda Tracking Station will continue to provide integral range services, such as tracking and telemetry, to meet the needs of government and commercial sector access to space," said Bill Wrobel, Wallops director.
NASA began tracking operations in Bermuda in the 1960s in support of Project Mercury, and operations continued well into the Space Shuttle program. With the development of space-based tracking systems, NASA closed the Bermuda Tracking Station in 1997. NASA signed an agreement in 2012 to reestablish the Bermuda Tracking Station with the commencement of commercial cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station, initially using mobile range tracking and telemetry instruments. The agreement has since been extended to 2026, and the range instrumentation is now part of a permanent facility, dedicated today, on Cooper's Island Nature Reserve.
In addition to launch activities, Bermuda has actively participated in NASA's Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program since 2014. GLOBE is a worldwide hands-on primary and secondary school-based science and education program that aims to inspire the next generation of global scientists through research in environmental and Earth system science.