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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More