United Launch Alliance (ULA) is set to deploy a new satellite for NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) on Friday, with an Atlas V carrying the TDRS-M satellite into orbit. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral is scheduled for a 40-minute window opening at 08:03 local time (12:03 UTC).
The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System, or TDRSS, is a fleet of geosynchronous communications satellites that form part of NASA’s Space Network.
Introduced in the 1980s to support the Space Shuttle, TDRSS continues in service today, providing a relay for communications, scientific data, telemetry and commands between operators on the ground and spacecraft in Earth orbit – including the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.
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The constellation consists of spacecraft stationed in three regions of operation: TDRS-East over the Atlantic, TDRS-West over the Pacific and TDRS-Z – covering the blind spot, or “zone of exclusion”, between the other satellites over the Indian Ocean.
The TDRS-6, TDRS-9 and TDRS-12 satellites are currently operating in the Atlantic region, with TDRS-3 as a backup, while TDRS-10 and TDRS-11 are in ...