RCA AN/FPS-16 Instrumentation Radar

AN/FPS-16FPS-16
The AN/FPS-16 is a highly accurate ground-based monopulse single object tracking radar (SOTR), used extensively by the NASA manned space program, the U.S.wikipedia
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Monopulse radar

monopulsemonopulse technique
The first monopulse radar was developed at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in 1943 to overcome the angular limitations of existing designs.
Whereas classical conical scan systems generate pointing accuracy on the order of 0.1 degree, monopulse radars generally improve this by a factor of 10, and advanced tracking radars like the AN/FPS-16 are accurate to 0.006 degrees.

Robert Morris Page

Robert M. Page
Although monopulse radar was developed independently and secretly in several countries, Robert Morris Page at the NRL is generally credited with the invention and holds the U.S. patent on this technique.
This highly complex technology was later used in the AN/FPS-16, likely the most popular tracking radar in history.

NASA

National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA Advisory CouncilU.S. space program
The AN/FPS-16 is a highly accurate ground-based monopulse single object tracking radar (SOTR), used extensively by the NASA manned space program, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army. Many improvements were made to provide a more compact and efficient monopulse antenna feed and lobe comparison waveguide circuitry, such that monopulse tracking radar became the generally accepted tracking radar system for military and civilian agencies, such as NASA and the FAA.

Milliradian

milmradangular mil
The accuracy of Radar Set AN/FPS-16 is such that the position data obtained from point-source targets has azimuth and elevation angular errors of less than 0.1 milliradian (approximately 0.006 degree) and range errors of less than 5 yd with a signal-to-noise ratio of 20 decibels or greater.

United States Naval Research Laboratory

Naval Research LaboratoryU.S. Naval Research LaboratoryNRL
The first monopulse radar was developed at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in 1943 to overcome the angular limitations of existing designs.

MIM-3 Nike Ajax

Nike AjaxNike MissileNike-Ajax
The monopulse technique was first applied to the Nike-Ajax missile system, an early U.S. continental air defense weapon.

Federal Aviation Administration

FAAFederal Aviation AgencyFederal Aviation Authority
Many improvements were made to provide a more compact and efficient monopulse antenna feed and lobe comparison waveguide circuitry, such that monopulse tracking radar became the generally accepted tracking radar system for military and civilian agencies, such as NASA and the FAA.

Explorer 1

Explorer IExplorerExplorer-1
The AN/FPS-16 was used to guide the first U.S. space satellite launches, Explorer 1 and Vanguard 1, at Cape Canaveral in 1958.

Vanguard 1

Vanguard IVanguardVanguard 1C
The AN/FPS-16 was used to guide the first U.S. space satellite launches, Explorer 1 and Vanguard 1, at Cape Canaveral in 1958.

Cape Canaveral

Cape KennedyCape Kennedy, FloridaCap Kennedy
The AN/FPS-16 was used to guide the first U.S. space satellite launches, Explorer 1 and Vanguard 1, at Cape Canaveral in 1958. The AN/FPS-16 radar system was introduced at the Atlantic Missile Test Range with installations including Cape Canaveral, Grand Bahama, San Salvador, Ascension and East Grand Bahama Island between 1958 and 1961.

Project Mercury

MercuryMercury programMercury spacecraft
The C-band monopulse tracking radar (AN/FPS-16) used in the Project Mercury was inherently more accurate than its S-band conically-scanned counterpart, the Very Long Range Tracking (VERLORT) radar system.

Eastern Range

Eastern Test RangeAtlantic Missile RangeEastern
The AN/FPS-16 radar system was introduced at the Atlantic Missile Test Range with installations including Cape Canaveral, Grand Bahama, San Salvador, Ascension and East Grand Bahama Island between 1958 and 1961.

Grand Bahama

Grand Bahama IslandFreeportGrand Bahamian
The AN/FPS-16 radar system was introduced at the Atlantic Missile Test Range with installations including Cape Canaveral, Grand Bahama, San Salvador, Ascension and East Grand Bahama Island between 1958 and 1961.

San Salvador

San Salvador, El SalvadorSan Salvador City San Salvador Metropolitan Area (AMSS)
The AN/FPS-16 radar system was introduced at the Atlantic Missile Test Range with installations including Cape Canaveral, Grand Bahama, San Salvador, Ascension and East Grand Bahama Island between 1958 and 1961.

Ascension Island

AscensionClarence BayAscension Island relay
The AN/FPS-16 radar system was introduced at the Atlantic Missile Test Range with installations including Cape Canaveral, Grand Bahama, San Salvador, Ascension and East Grand Bahama Island between 1958 and 1961.

East Grand Bahama

The AN/FPS-16 radar system was introduced at the Atlantic Missile Test Range with installations including Cape Canaveral, Grand Bahama, San Salvador, Ascension and East Grand Bahama Island between 1958 and 1961.

Pass (spaceflight)

passsatellite passAcquisition of signal
However, for a target at a range typically, say, 700 nmi at acquisition of signal [AOS], the radar was tracking second time around, that is, the pulse received in this interpulse period was that due to the previously transmitted pulse, and it would be indicating a range of 700 nmi.

Parabolic reflector

parabolic mirrorparabolicparabolic dish
The horn cluster is located approximately at the focal point of a 12 ft parabolic reflector.

Hertz

MHzkHzHz
The sum, azimuth, and elevation signals are converted to 30 MHz IF signals and amplified.

Intermediate frequency

IFintermediate frequenciesDual-conversion
The sum, azimuth, and elevation signals are converted to 30 MHz IF signals and amplified.

Parabolic antenna

dish antennaparabolicparabolic dish antenna
The radar utilizes a 12 ft parabolic antenna giving a beamwidth of 1.2 degrees at the

Gray code

Gray codingGray code addressingGray codes
The data for each angle is a Gray code 17-bit word in serial form.

DAMP Project

AN/SPS-12SPS-12AN/FPQ-4
Two more models, with modifications, were installed on a ship for use in the Atlantic Missile Range on the Project DAMP.

Violet Friend

Initial tracking of the warheads would then be handed off to AN/FPS-16 radars in the UK and the Netherlands.