NASA on 18 August 2017 launched Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M) to help astronauts at the International Space Station in communicating with the Earth.
This USD 408 million Boeing-made satellite was sent into space through United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket that was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
• The TDRS-M satellite will facilitate space-to-ground communication for NASA’s low-Earth orbit operations.
• It will ensure that scientists, engineers and control room staff can readily access data for missions like the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.
• It will support critical space communication into the mid-2020s.
• The 7600 pound TDRS-M satellite is the last of 13 such satellites that have been launched since 1983 and is designed to last at least 15 years.
About NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite series
• NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite series has been continuously revolutionizing mission operations for US human spaceflight and robotic craft since 1983.
• The TDRS system plays an essential role in human spaceflight by supporting continuous communication between the International Space Station and Mission Control.
• The TDRS network receives signals from vehicles like the space station flying at a mere 250 miles above Earth and routes the telemetry, voice, video and science information to a dedicated ground terminal.
• It also helps in tracking the launch of rockets including the Atlas V.
• NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite series is now in its fourth decade.
NASA currently has 7 operational TDRS satellites- two launched by the space shuttle in 1993 and 1995 and five were launched by Atlas rocket birds from 2000 to 2014. NASA also has two aged shuttle-era craft from 1988 and 1991 that are now held in reserve with diminished capabilities.
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