NASA - TDRS-M Mission patch.
Aug. 18, 2017
Image above: Liftoff of NASA’s TDRS-M spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Image credit: NASA TV.
Liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 8:29 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.
Atlas V Rocket Launches with TDRS-M Satellite
Video above: The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) launches atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Launch time was 8:29 a.m. EDT. Video Credit: NASA TV.
The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) System is the solution to an early spaceflight problem: Officials on Earth had to rely on a pieced-together network of ground-based stations to communicate with spacecraft in orbit. The first TDRS satellite, TDRS-A, launched on space shuttle mission STS-6 in April 1983.
Today there are nine TDRS satellites in orbit at fixed points more than 22,000 miles above Earth’s surface. Two ground-based stations in White Sands, New Mexico, and one in Guam form the NASA Space Network. Together, the NASA Space Network and TDRS System provide a reliable high-bandwidth link to the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and a host of other orbiting missions.
Image above: This illustration depicts the NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M, in orbit. Image credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The TDRS-M satellite that launched earlier today is the third and final in the system’s third generation of spacecraft. Once TDRS-M separates from the Centaur and begins its mission in space, it will go through a three- to four-month period of testing and calibration, followed by an additional three months of initial testing. At that time TDRS-M will be renamed TDRS-13, and it will either be put into service or stored in orbit until it’s needed by NASA’s Space Network.
TDRS: An Era of Continuous Space Communications
For more information about TDRS, visit: http://tdrs.gsfc.nasa.gov
SCaN (Space Communications and Navigation): https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/scan/index.html
TDRS (Tracking and Data Relay Satellite): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdrs/home/index.html
Space Network (SN): https://sn.gsfc.nasa.gov/sn
Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Anna Heiney.