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Rollout of Atlas V TDRS-K, Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida | by NASA Goddard Photo and Video
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Rollout of Atlas V TDRS-K, Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is rolled to the pad at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., in preparation to launch NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K (TDRS-K).


Photo courtesy United Launch Alliance




CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The first of NASA's three next-generation

Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS), known as TDRS-K, launched

at 8:48 p.m. EST Wednesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in



"TDRS-K bolsters our network of satellites that provides essential

communications to support space exploration," said Badri Younes,

deputy associate administrator for Space Communications and

Navigation at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It will improve the

overall health and longevity of our system."


The TDRS system provides tracking, telemetry, command and

high-bandwidth data return services for numerous science and human

exploration missions orbiting Earth. These include the International

Space Station and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.


"With this launch, NASA has begun the replenishment of our aging space

network," said Jeffrey Gramling, TDRS project manager. "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."


TDRS-K was lifted into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V

rocket from Space Launch Complex-41. After a three-month test phase,

NASA will accept the spacecraft for additional evaluation before

putting the satellite into service.


The TDRS-K spacecraft includes several modifications from older

satellites in the TDRS system, including redesigned

telecommunications payload electronics and a high-performance solar

panel designed for more spacecraft power to meet growing S-band

requirements. Another significant design change, the return to

ground-based processing of data, will allow the system to service

more customers with evolving communication requirements.


The next TDRS spacecraft, TDRS-L, is scheduled for launch in 2014.

TDRS-M's manufacturing process will be completed in 2015.


NASA's Space Communications and Navigation Program, part of the Human

Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at the agency's

Headquarters in Washington, is responsible for the space network. The

TDRS Project Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in

Greenbelt, Md., manages the TDRS development program. Launch services

were provided by United Launch Alliance. NASA's Launch Services

Program at the Kennedy Space Center was responsible for acquisition

of launch services.


For more information about TDRS, visit:


NASA image use policy.


NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.


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Taken on January 29, 2013