A Boeing-built Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) that will improve communications for orbiting spacecraft was successfully launched today on an Atlas IIA rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
The launch, provided by International Launch Services on a Lockheed Martin-built vehicle, occurred at 2:59 p.m. PST (5:59 p.m. EST; 2259 GMT). Acquisition of the spacecraft was received 36 minutes later by the U.S. Air Force's Satellite Control Facility on the island of Diego Garcia, confirming that its systems are operating normally. The Boeing 601 satellite is the second of three built by Boeing Satellite Systems, a unit of The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center of Greenbelt, Md.
"This TDRS-I satellite, along with H and J, will replenish and augment the current TDRS fleet, which has served the Space Shuttle and other orbiting spacecraft for almost two decades," said Jack Wormington, senior vice president of Programs for Boeing Satellite Systems. "The TDRS spacecraft are the lifeline of mankind in space, safeguarding astronauts by providing direct contact with Earth. The TDRS satellites relay large volumes of user satellite data -- including voice, video and scientific -- from manned missions or orbiting scientific spacecraft back to ground control centers."
Beyond human space activities, TDRS supports spacecraft with research targets ranging from the birth of stars deep in distant galaxies to subtleties of environmental phenomena on Earth. The TDRS fleet is also unique in its ability to follow the motion of fast moving satellites, providing nearly continuous communication with controllers and researchers on Earth. In addition to the Space Shuttle, other NASA programs using the TDRS fleet include the Hubble Space Telescope, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, Landsats, the Earth Observing System, Expendable Launch Vehicle tracking, and the International Space Station.
Second TDRS Launches 2-2-2
NASA plans to launch the last in the series, TDRS-J, in November 2002. TDRS-H was launched on June 30, 2000. The satellites will be placed in geosynchronous orbit in strategic locations above the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Boeing S&C, headquartered in Seal Beach, Calif., is the world's largest space and communications company. A unit of The Boeing Company, S&C provides integrated solutions in launch services, human space flight and exploration, missile defense, and information and communications. It is NASA's largest contractor; a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; and a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The global enterprise has customers worldwide and manufacturing operations throughout the United States and Australia.