NASA launched the first of three next-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellites Wednesday night from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch of the TDRS-K satellite onboard a United Alliance Atlas V rocket took place at 8:48 p.m. Wednesday from Space Launch Complex-41 in Florida. The satellite will provide “…tracking, telemetry, command and high-bandwidth data return services for numerous science and human exploration missions orbiting Earth,” according to NASA. The satellite will also support the work of the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope. In a NASA press release, NASA deputy associate administrator for Space Communications and Navigation, Badri Younes said, “TDRS-K bolsters our network of satellites that provides essential communications to support space exploration [and will] improve the overall health and longevity of our system.” TDRS Project Manager Jeffrey Gramling said, “With this launch, NASA has begun the replenishment of our aging space network. This addition to our current fleet of seven will provide even greater capabilities to a network that has become key to enabling many of NASA’s scientific discoveries.”
The upgraded TDRS-K launched Wednesday night includes modifications such as “…redesigned telecommunications payload electronics and a high-performance solar panel designed for more spacecraft power to meet growing S-band requirements.” The satellite will not go to work immediately but will now be tested for three months in orbit, followed by further evaluation if all goes well, before being put into active service.
The second TDRS satellite launch is expected next year, while the third TDRS satellite is set to be finished being built in 2015.
Click here to visit NASA’s TDRS website.
You can contact Mike Royer at firstname.lastname@example.org