This past Friday at 8:29 a.m. EDT, NASA launched its latest communications satellite, Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M). These communications satellites will be the third and final in a series of next-generation communications satellites.
Dave Littmann, the TDRS project manager at NASA, reported, “The TDRS fleet is a critical connection delivering science and human spaceflight facts to those who can use it here on Earth.”
“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.”
The real mission was established in 1973 to develop, launch and deliver data to support NASA’s Space Network. This next-generation satellite provides high-data-rate communications and accurate navigation. In addition, it is almost effectively identical in both Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M), similar to TDRS-K and -L spacecraft.
Ground controllers reported, “The satellite was in good health at the start of a four-month check out in space by its manufacturer, Boeing. Nasa will also test it before putting TDRS-M into service early next year.”
Once it gets completely ready, it will be part of NASA’s Space Network, providing navigation and high-data-rate communications to the International Space Station, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, rockets and a host of other spacecraft.
NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program, known as SCaN, is part of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington and is responsible for the Space Network.
The TDRS project office at Goddard manages the TDRS development program. Management of the launch service for TDRS-M is the responsibility of NASA’s Launch Services Program based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. ULA provided the Atlas V rocket launch service.