You are here

Telemetry Buoy - TM Collection System




TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, Ground/Sea Vehicles

OBJECTIVE: Identify, develop and demonstrate new, inexpensive, user-friendly methods for autonomous telemetry (TM) collection with improved link margin and improved redundancy from flight test assets traversing large open-ocean distances.

DESCRIPTION: Long-range, open-ocean flight tests currently require a large number of telemetry collection assets—usually a combination of airborne, seaborne or land-based—spread across the flight path, resulting in increased costs, schedule and logistics concerns. Future flight tests could benefit from inexpensive telemetry collection assets that could be easily and quickly deployed and could either store the data for later pickup, or retransmit the data on command.

This problem could potentially be addressed by small buoys, or autonomous ocean-going vessels with the appropriate telemetry collection receivers and antennas, recorders (if necessary) and re-transmission systems (if necessary). These unmanned systems could either be placed or maneuvered directly under the planned flight path, less than 50-miles from the transmission source as it flies overhead, and if inexpensive enough, could be placed with relatively short spacing between assets to improve link margin and improve redundancy.

PHASE I: Determine technical and economic feasibility of a telemetry collection buoy, develop a plan for practical deployment, and produce a conceptual design of this system. Phase I deliverables would include a final report showing the assessment of the technical and economic feasibility and a draft concept of operations of the proposed system. Additionally a conceptual design document and proposed system requirements to guide subsequent development would be required.

PHASE II: Develop, test and demonstrate the system via an operational prototype. Required Phase II deliverables would include concept of operations (CONOPS), requirements documentation, design documentation, test plan and test reports.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Any future flight testing of long- range flight vehicles having limited payload and telemetry capabilities will require testing over open-ocean ranges where telemetry (TM) assets are either sea-borne, airborne, or overhead. A low-cost operational TM buoy would enable simple telemetry collection for these critical tests.


  • Walker, S., Sherk, J., Shell, D., Schena, R., Bergmann, J.F., Gladbach, J.; "The DARPA/AF Falcon Program: The Hypersonic Technology Vehicle #2 (HTV-2) Flight Demonstration Phase," 15th AIAA International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference, April, 2008, Dayton, Ohio, 10.2
  • Weaver, Carlyn H., “Collecting Reentry Body GPS Translator Data Near Impact Using the Over-the-Horizon Buoy”, Johns Hopkins APL Technical Digest, Volume 29, Number 2 (2010)

KEYWORDS: Telemetry, flight test, buoys, autonomous ocean-going vessels, hypersonics

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government