WASHINGTON – NASA will upgrade its space communications capabilities when it attempts to launch its first data relay satellite in over a decade early next year.
The space agency plans to launch its newest Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, dubbed TDRS-K, from Cape Canaveral on Jan. 29. Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems (El Segundo, Calif.) delivered the satellite to the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday (Dec. 18), NASA said.
TDRS-K will join a constellation of satellites that provides tracking, telemetry and data relay capabilities during low-Earth orbit missions. It will be launched into a geostationary orbit by an Atlas V rocket. TDRS-L is scheduled for launch in 2014 while TDRS-M is scheduled for 2015, NASA said.
Jeffrey Gramling, NASA’s TDRS project manager, said the new fleet of relay satellites will upgrade the space agency capabilities for a range of science missions.
An early TDRS satellite is deployed by the space shuttle. (Source: NASA)
The new satellites include upgraded solar panels to provide more spacecraft power. The upgrade also will return signal processing to the ground. Ground-based processing allows the satellite to handle more communications functions, the space agency said.
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