in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NASA’S TDRS-K Satellite Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

The TDRS-K satellite is offloaded from a United States Air Force C-17 aircraft. The satellite arrived in preparation for a planned Jan. 29 launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Photo Credit: NASA / Kim Shiflett

The next of NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS) is at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in preparation for a January launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The TDRS-K satellite arrived via a United States Air Force C-17 from the Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems assembly facility in El Segundo, Calif.

NASA has used the TDRS family of satellites to provide communications for the space agency in a variety of both national and international missions. NASA uses the TDRS fleet to provide the agency with in-flight communications with spacecraft operating in low-Earth orbit. These spacecraft provide tracking, telemetry, command, and high bandwidth data return services to a wide-range of spacecraft.

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

In this image, one can see one of the antennae which will be used on the TDRS-K satellite. Photo Credit: NASA/GSFC

It has been some time since the last TDRS satellite was sent aloft.

The TDRS-J satellite was launched atop an Atlas IIA rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 36A in Florida in December of 2002.

NASA’s TDRS-K satellite will be launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

TDRS-K is the first in a planned group of three next-generation satellites meant to guarantee the continuity of service and expand the lifetime of the TDRS fleet. This will be further strengthened by the other two TDRS satellites, L and M, scheduled for launches in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

According to a NASA press release, these new TDRS satellites will employ next generation solar panels and will return signal processing for the S-band multiple access service to the ground—the same as the first-generation TDRS spacecraft. These satellites are promoted as having the ability of providing services to more customers in a variety of communications requirements.

The TDRS family of satellites harkens back to the shuttle program, providing communications to various locations in geostationary orbit in support of NASA’s human space exploration efforts. To date, nine TDRS satellites have been launched. Seven of those are still in service, even though four of the spacecraft are operating past their specified design lives.

The TDRS satellite also has a place in one of the greatest tragedies in human spaceflight history. The second TDRS satellite was launched on STS-51L, the final flight of space shuttle Challenger in 1986. It was lost along with the crew of seven on that day.



Missions » TDRS » TDRS-K »

Written by Jason Rhian

Jason Rhian gained Bachelor’s Degrees in journalism and public relations from the University of South Florida and spent countless hours volunteering with NASA and other space groups to gain experience. He has interned with NASA twice. Once at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) press site in 2007 and with NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) in 2009.

Jason has worked with a number of space-related groups and events - including Google Lunar X-PRIZE team Omega Envoy, the 2009 International Space Development Conference and NASA's KSC press site. Jason has covered over 30 launches. His work has been published in Aviation Week & Space Technology, The Spaceport News and online with,,,, Universe Today and other websites.

Whereas some journalists are comfortable repurposing a press release and using imagery provided to them by the public relations arm of that organization – Jason has made a habit of getting behind the pre-approved announcements to cover the events first hand. He covered President Obama’s remarks live from Kennedy Space Center in April 2010. Jason also flew out to Utah to cover the test fire of Alliant Techsystems second test of the company’s Development Motor-2 (DM-2). More recently, he sat in the backseat of history, flying on NASA’s Shuttle Training Aircraft with STS-135 Commander Chris Ferguson as he trained for the last mission of the space shuttle era during the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT).

One Comment

One Ping

  1. Pingback:

Expedition 34 “Aims High” With Launch of Second Canadian Long-Duration Resident

What Do Mir’s Solar Arrays Predict for ISS arrays?