Boeing has received the first on-orbit signals from the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-K, demonstrating that the vehicle is functioning and ready to use its internal engine to boost it to its operational geosynchronous orbit.
After reaching final orbit, it will undergo three months of tests and calibration before being put into operation by NASA to provide critical communications relay services to NASA and other U.S. space programs.
TDRS-K joins three other Boeing TDRS satellites in NASA’s system. It is the first of a new series of those satellites, featuring improved payload, power and propulsion, and will help provide users with enhanced, reliable communications bandwidth at the lowest cost.
“TDRS-K is another example of the vital space communication services Boeing has been providing to NASA for more than four decades,” said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems.
The satellite launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V vehicle today at 8:48 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Controllers in Australia confirmed initial contact with it two hours and three minutes later.
TDRS-K’s design is based on electronics from the highly successful 702 class of satellites and previous TDRS spacecraft.