Advanced Communications Satellite Soars Into Night Sky

by Susan Hendrix for Kennedy Space Center

More articles in Satellites

NASA's third Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-J, TDRS-J, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. at 9:42 p.m. EST aboard an Atlas IIA rocket. Spacecraft separation from the Centaur stage occurred at 10:12 p.m. Boeing controllers made initial contact with TDRS-J at 10:41 p.m. EST as the spacecraft passed over NASA's ground station in Canberra Australia.

"We couldn't be more pleased with this evening's launch," said Robert Jenkens Jr., TDRS Project Manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. "Controllers have already made contact with TDRS-J and all seems well. My congratulations to everyone who helped make this launch a success."

During the next eight days, a series of orbit raising maneuvers will boost the 7,039-pound (3,196-kilogram) satellite into a geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth's equator.

Boeing Satellite Systems of El Segundo, Calif., which built the trio of enhanced satellites for NASA under a fixed-price contract, will command TDRS-J through completion of transfer orbit maneuvers, appendage deployments, acquisition of Earth pointing in geostationary orbit and pre-acceptance testing using NASA's Deep Space Network.

TDRS-J will provide users with improved multiple access, S-band single access, as well as a new Ka-band service. This second generation TDRS will help replenish the original six TDRS, which have provided reliable communications support to the Space Shuttle and numerous Earth-orbiting science missions since 1983.

For additional information about TDRS-H, -I and -J, go to:

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