A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lights up the night sky over Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida as it carries NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, or TDRS-L, to Earth orbit. Launch was at 9:33 p.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 23 during a 40-minute launch window.
The TDRS-L spacecraft is the second of three new satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for NASA by expanding the lifespan of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) fleet, which consists of eight satellites in geosynchronous orbit. The spacecraft provide tracking, telemetry, command and high-bandwidth data return services for numerous science and human exploration missions orbiting Earth. These include NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. TDRS-L has a high-performance solar panel designed for more spacecraft power to meet the growing S-band communications requirements. TDRSS is one of three NASA Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) networks providing space communications to NASA’s missions.
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Image Credit: NASA/Dan Casper