A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the NASA’s Tracking Data and Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 Aug. 18 at 8:29 a.m. EDT. The TDRS-M is the third and final mission in the series of these third generation space communication satellites to orbit, as part of the follow-on fleet being developed to replenish NASA’s space Network.
“ULA uses the TDRS system as a primary means of receiving and distributing launch vehicle telemetry data during every flight. In fact, the TDRS-K and TDRS-L spacecraft, launched by ULA in 2013 and 2014 tracked today’s launch” said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. “We are absolutely honored to have delivered this core NASA capability and critical national resource for our country.”
All six of the newest TDRS satellites have been delivered to orbit on Atlas V vehicles.
This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter extended payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine. This is ULA’s 5th launch in 2017 and the 120th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.
“Congratulations to our entire ULA team and mission partners at NASA on another successful launch that will enable so many to explore and operate in space,” said Maginnis.
The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) is a space-based communication system used to provide tracking, telemetry, command and high-bandwidth data return services. Microwave communications equipment and gimbaled antennae are the primary payload of each TDRS. The system is capable of providing near continuous high-bandwidth telecommunications services for Low Earth orbiting spacecraft and expendable launch vehicles including the International Space Station.