Thursday, January 31, 2013

NASA sends new tracking and data relay satellite into space

On Wednesday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched yet another Tracking and Data Relay Satellite -- the agency’s 11th TDRS. The new satellite will be used for communications with the International Space Station and to transmit more images from the Hubble Telescope.

Presently, the new TDRS has the letter K designation (TDRS-K), but once its commences operations it will be named TDRS-11. The satellite, which was sent into orbit by ULA’s Atlas V rocket, will reach its intended 22,300-mile-high orbit in around two weeks. Once the satellite is in place, testing will begin and continue for the next few months.

NASA expects to have at least seven TDRS satellites all working simultaneously in orbit at all times. The TDRS-K makes the eighth satellite at the current time. The agency also scheduled the launch of TDRS-L next year. The very first TRDS was sent into orbit in 1983 and was recently retired along with the fourth.

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