News / Science & Technology

NASA Satellite System To Get Upgrade

The TDRS-K satellite depicted orbiting Earth from 22,300 miles, an altitude which allows the spacecraft to reliably receive and transmit signals between spacecraft in low Earth orbit and ground stations on Earth. Artist concept: The Boeing Co.
The TDRS-K satellite depicted orbiting Earth from 22,300 miles, an altitude which allows the spacecraft to reliably receive and transmit signals between spacecraft in low Earth orbit and ground stations on Earth. Artist concept: The Boeing Co.
Suzanne Presto
If you've ever marveled at the Hubble Space Telescope's colorful images of the cosmos or watched video of astronauts in near-real time as they float through their lab on the ISS, you have a fleet of satellites to thank.

Space Network

The satellites comprise NASA's so-called 'Space Network,' formally known as the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System, or TDRS.

Badri Younes, NASA's deputy associate administrator of Space Communications and Navigation, or SCaN, says science as we know it - and NASA as we know it - would not exist without such satellites.  

"All of the beautiful images, whether you are looking deep into space trying to discover the origin of the universe, looking at the galaxies or looking at Earth trying to see the trend in the weather and the changes that are taking place," come from voice, video and data that people receive through SCaN, Younes told reporters at a pre-launch briefing.

The Space Network is an aging fleet that orbits the Earth, and it's about to get an upgrade with its first new spacecraft since 2002.    

Enclosed in its payload fairing, NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-K, is lifted for placement atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41, 20 Jan 2013. (NASA)Enclosed in its payload fairing, NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-K, is lifted for placement atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41, 20 Jan 2013. (NASA)
x
Enclosed in its payload fairing, NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-K, is lifted for placement atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41, 20 Jan 2013. (NASA)
Enclosed in its payload fairing, NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-K, is lifted for placement atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41, 20 Jan 2013. (NASA)
Upgrade

The U.S. space agency is preparing to launch the first of a new generation of communications satellites to link control centers here on Earth with NASA spacecraft, including the International Space Station.  The satellite, called TDRS-K, is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida Wednesday night.  

It will join seven surviving satellites in the TDRS set.  Two have been retired, boosted about 400 kilometers higher into so-called "disposal orbit."  One is in storage in orbit.  Two more will follow TDRS-K.  

The new satellite was designed for a lifespan of 15 years, but it could last much longer.     

Legacies and the Future

NASA says the first of these satellites, launched 30 years ago, was used to support the first telemedicine surgery at the South Pole.  That was when doctors in the northeastern U.S. state of Massachusetts were able to assist a physician in repairing the knee of a meteorologist in Antarctica back in 2002.

"Launch is just the beginning of this satellite's journey and the addition of TDRS-K to the overall constellation will continue the successful legacy of the project and strengthen NASA's communication system that is so vital for the International Space Station and many other satellites that are in orbit today and will be in orbit in the future," said Vernon Thorp, who handles NASA missions at rocket-supplier United Launch Alliance.

Thorp added that the TDRS constellation even helps scientists improve upon the very rockets that launch these satellites into orbit.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid