United Launch Alliance (ULA) has launched a new satellite for NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS). It is the latest in a series of geosynchronous communications satellites that form part of NASA’s Space Network.
The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M), launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket with a liftoff at 8:29 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41.
This new satellite allows space-to-ground communication for NASA's slow-Earth orbit operations. The satellite will "support critical space communication into the mid-2020s", NASA said in a statement.
"The TDRS fleet is a critical connection delivering science and human spaceflight data to those who can use it here on Earth," said Dave Littmann, the TDRS project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
"TDRS-M will expand the capabilities and extend the lifespan of the Space Network, allowing us to continue receiving and transmitting mission data well into the next decade," Littmann said.
This will help all the scientists, engineers and control room staff to readily access data for missions like the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.
The latest satellite is the last of three satellites that include the third generation of the TDRSS constellation.The name of the satellite is temporary and it will change once it reached to orbit.
It came in the 1980s to support the Space Shuttle, TDRSS is still in service, useful for communications, scientific data, telemetry and commands between operators on the ground and spacecraft in Earth orbit – including the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station
TDRS-M's predecessors, TDRS-K and TDRS-L, also launched on Atlas V rockets from the same launch complex in January 2103 and January 2014, respectively.