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TDRS-L satellite ready for in-orbit testing, will support Orion mission in Sept

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NASA reported that the TDRS-L satellite was “…safely in orbit…” early Friday morning, after a launch from Florida Thursday night. According to the space agency, ground controllers said the spacecraft was in healthy condition and ready to start a three-month testing period by satellite builders Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of El Segundo, California. NASA said it would also run additional tests prior to putting the spacecraft into service.

Orion Mission will use TDRS fleet

In a press release, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden also said the TDRS fleet of satellites will be supporting the Orion mission later this year. “TDRS-L and the entire TDRS fleet provide a vital service to America’s space program by supporting missions that range from Earth-observation to deep space discoveries. TDRS also will support the first test of NASA’s new deep space spacecraft, the Orion crew module, in September. This test will see Orion travel farther into space than any human spacecraft has gone in more than 40 years.”

Atlas rocket sends TDRS-L into orbit

This writer covered the launch of the TDRS-L satellite at the Kennedy Space Center Thursday night, which saw a slight launch delay after a standard 10-minute launch hold shortly before 9 p.m. NASA tweeted that engineers saw some “data dropouts” in information transmitted from the spacecraft, and delayed the launch while they checked into the issue. The engineers conferred on a workaround, and the launch countdown resumed at 9:29 p.m., followed by the successful launch of the spacecraft at 9:33 p.m. The satellite was launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The TDRS-L is an update to the network of TDRS satellites which provide “high-data-rate communications” to the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA space science missions.

Click here to visit the NASA TDRS website.

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