NASA preparing to launch new communications satellite

The newest Tracking and Data Relay Satellite of NASA, known as TDRS-K, is set to launch on January 29 after arriving at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last December 18. The next-generation communications satellite arrived aboard a U.S Air Force C-17 from the Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems assembly facility in El Segundo, California.

The TDRS space probe has provided an impeccable satellite communications network for NASA for about 30 years now, serving a number of national and international space missions. The TDRS fleet is a space-based communication system used to support command, telemetry, tracking and high bandwidth data return services. These NASA satellites provide in-flight communications with spacecraft operating in low-Earth orbit. Ten years has passed since NASA’s last launch of a TDR satellite.

“This launch will provide even greater capabilities to a network that has become key to enabling many of NASA’s scientific discoveries,” says Jeffrey Gramling, project manager for TDRS at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The TDRS-K will be sent off to geostationary orbit aboard an Atlas V rocket. This spaceship is said to be the first of three next-generation satellites built to ensure critical operational continuity for NASA by extending the lifespan of the fleet. The launch of the two other satellites, TDRS-L, is scheduled for 2014, while TDRS-M is set to go off on 2015.

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