In 1961, NASA opened a tracking station in Bermuda to support Project Mercury. The Bermuda station on Cooper’s Island once supported Project Mercury through the Space Shuttle Program. Closed in 1999, the facility was later refurbished and reopened in 2018 to support missions.
Old map showing NASA site
The Bermuda station was part of the Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN) with the secondary computer that decided on the “go-no go” of the mission. Bermuda started tracking a spacecraft about three minutes after takeoff from Florida.
After 38 years of service to NASA, the Bermuda station on Cooper’s Island was closed due to technology developments with the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) and the Space Shuttle. Announcement.
In 2008, Cooper's Island became a nature reserve with large sections of the Island opened to the public.
NASA and the Government of Bermuda signed an agreement to establish a temporary mobile tracking station on Cooper's Island. The station will support launches from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, including future commercial missions. Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Derrick Burgess and NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver signed the agreement. Announcement.
NASA’s mobile tracking station in Bermuda provides telemetry, radar, and command and control services. It will support the launch of rockets carrying supplies to the International Space Station or satellites to low-Earth orbit. Announcement.
Showcasing NASA’s long-standing partnership with Bermuda in support of human spaceflight and space exploration, NASA formally dedicates its upgraded Bermuda Tracking Station during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the station’s site on Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve. Announcement.
Acting U.S. Consul General Alan Purcell visited the NASA Tracking Station in Bermuda in advance of Saturday’s [Feb 20] scheduled rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Initiated in 1958, and completed in 1963, Project Mercury was the United States' first man-in-space program using a single astronaut craft. Six manned flights were made from 1961 to 1963. The specific objectives of the program were as follows:
Project Gemini was a two-astronaut manned launch that operated from 1961 to 1966. The Gemini Program ran concurrently with Mercury and Apollo. Gemini's main objective was being a bridge program between a one astronaut Mercury launch and the three-astronaut Apollo mission to the Moon.
Gemini had four key goals:
Officially running from 1961 to 1972, Project Apollo was a three astronaut per manned launch program designed to land two astronauts on the Moon. Each Apollo consisted of a three-part spacecraft:
Project Apollo's goals went beyond landing Americans on the moon and returning them safely to Earth. They included:
Designed as the world’s first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle was first launched on April 12, 1981, and the final ship landed on July 21, 2011. A Space Shuttle crew typically had seven astronauts. Shuttles Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour flew a total of 135 missions, and facilitated the construction of the International Space Station.
The Shuttle Program:
From 1998 to 2011, the International Space Station (ISS) was assembled in low Earth orbit largely by the United States and Russia, with assistance and components from a multinational consortium. The ISS has been continuously occupied since November 2, 2000. Crew sizes have varied over the years. However, the station has housed as many as thirteen people several times, but only for a few days during crew changeovers or space shuttle visits.
Astronauts' time on the ISS is spent:
Current plans call for the space station to operate through at least 2024, with the ISS partners discussing a possible extension until 2028. Future plans for the ISS after 2028 are not defined. Options include deorbiting and crashing into an ocean, mostly burning up upon entry (hopefully), or recycling for future space stations in orbit.
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