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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid