Space

December 19, 2012

NASA’s next-generation communications satellite arrives at Kennedy

NASA’s newest Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, known as TDRS-K, arrived Dec. 18 at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for a Jan. 29 launch.

TDRS-K arrived aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 from the Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems assembly facility in El Segundo, Calif.

For almost 30 years, the TDRS spacecraft have provided a reliable communications network for NASA, serving numerous national and international space missions. The TDRS fleet is a space-based communication system used to provide tracking, telemetry, command, and high bandwidth data return services. The satellites provide in-flight communications with spacecraft operating in low-Earth orbit. It has been 10 years since NASA’s last TDRS launch.

“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.

TDRS-K will launch to geostationary orbit aboard an Atlas V rocket. The spacecraft is the first of three next-generation satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for NASA by expanding the lifespan of the fleet. The launch of TDRS-L is scheduled for 2014 and TDRS-M in 2015.

Each of the new satellites has a higher performance solar panel design to provide more spacecraft power. This upgrade will return signal processing for the S-Band multiple access service to the ground – the same as the first-generation TDRS spacecraft. Ground-based processing allows TDRS to service more customers with different and evolving communication requirements.

The TDRS fleet began operating during the space shuttle era and provides critical communication support from several locations in geostationary orbit to NASA’s human spaceflight endeavors, including the International Space Station. The fleet also provides communications support to an array of science missions, as well as various types of launch vehicles. Of the nine TDRS satellites launched, seven are still operational, although four are already beyond their design life. Two have been retired. The second TDRS was lost in 1986 during the space shuttle Challenger accident.

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 TDRS network. NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy is responsible for launch management. United Launch Alliance provides the Atlas V rocket launch service.

 

To join the online conversation about TDRS on Twitter, follow the hashtag #TDRS.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NASA photograph

NASA begins engine test project for space launch system rocket

NASA photograph RS-25 rocket engine No. 0525 is positioned onto the A-1 Test Stand at NASAís Stennis Space Center in Mississippi preparation for a series of developmental tests. Engineers have taken a crucial step in preparing...
 
 

SSL selected to study asteroid retrieval for NASA

Space Systems/Loral, a leading provider of commercial satellites, announced July 18 that it was one of the companies selected by NASA to study system concepts and key technologies for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, which is expected to be a key part of the agency’s path to sending humans to Mars. SSL will conduct two studies;...
 
 
NASA image

NASA turns over next-gen air traffic management tool to FAA

NASA image As seen in this image, Terminal Sequencing and Spacing technology enables air traffic controllers to better manage the spacing between aircraft as they save both time and fuel and reducing emissions, flying more effi...
 

 
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech, and SETI Institute

NASA seeks proposals for Europa mission science instruments

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech, and SETI Institute Compiled from NASAís Galileo spacecraft data, this colorized surface image of Europa shows the blue-white terrains which indicate relatively pure water ice. Scientists are...
 
 

NASA announces early career faculty space tech research grants

NASA has selected seven university-led proposals for the study of innovative, early stage technologies that address high priority needs for America’s space program. The selected proposals for unique, disruptive, or transformational space technologies will address challenges in robotic mobility when traversing extreme terrain, in developing lightweight and multifunctional materials and str...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA Armstrong recalls first moon landing, preps for ‘next giant leap’

NASA photograph In this 1967 NASA Flight Research Center photograph the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) No. 2 is viewed from the front. This photograph provides a good view of the pilot’s platform with the restricti...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>