Scenarios for Manned Space Development
Section 2.
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Space Traffic Control

Andrew B. Hollister

Space traffic control is independent from vehicle control and in the past it has been accomplished through the mission control office. While this has worked for dedicated missions, it is not the best model for regular flight operations. A better model is the U.S. air traffic control system.

Borrowing the basic outline yields:

  1. Certain areas and flight paths are controlled.
  2. Human or automated traffic controllers monitor and maintain these areas.
  3. All pilots behave themselves and fly according to the rules.
  4. Anything else is considered an emergency and react teams are alerted.

Like lane markers and traffic lights, control areas are used to promote good traffic flow. Navigational markers used to designate flight lanes might be as simple as an extended version of the GPS system allowing ships to get a very accurate location fix quickly. This, in turn, will decrease excess correction burns and improve flight efficiency. Landing zones will be well marked and sport good radars, removing the guesswork from this difficult and dangerous aspect of the flight. Flight rules, required equipment, good facility design, and so on, will be created, and then changed, as we learn better ways to do them. Specifics will have to be defined and enforced by some sort of ongoing regulatory body (preferably a volunteer organization).


Planning and Design of Airports, Robert Horonjeff, Francis X. Mckelvey,1994

Content by Andrew B. Hollister <>

Scenarios for Manned Space Development

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