NASA satellite to bring high-speed data to Hubble, ISS

TDRS-L will provide high-speed connectivity to satellites

NASA's TDRS satellite launching on an Atlas V rocket on January 23, 2014.

NASA's TDRS satellite launching on an Atlas V rocket on January 23, 2014.

NASA's newest Tracking and Data Relay (TDRS) satellite, which will provide high data-rate communications to space craft, went into orbit Thursday night.

TDRS-L (say: Tee-Driss) is the second satellite in a trio that will connect the International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope and other satellites with NASA control centers on the ground. To date, 11 TDRS satellites have been put into orbit and eight remain operational. TDRS-L joins TDRS-K, an identical satellite that launched last year. The last of the trio, TDRS-M, is slated to go into orbit in 2015.

To see the rocket carrying TDRS-L lift off, watch a video on YouTube.

Before the TDRS fleet became operational in 1983, satellites didn't have constant contact with the ground. In the 1970s satellites orbiting the Earth relied on NASA's network of ground stations to provide a communications network. As the satellite passed over one of the ground stations it would exchange information. But the small network could only cover just 15 percent of the satellite's orbit, according to NASA.

The TDRS network functions by relaying communications from satellites and space craft to one of two ground stations, either White Sands Complex in New Mexico or the Guam Remote Ground Terminal. If the signals are sent to Guam, then they're relayed to White Sands, which will pass all communications to the various mission operations centers that may be in charge of the satellites or space craft.

Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, the manufacturer of TDRS-L, has started a three-month "checkout" where it will conduct a battery of tests before putting the satellite into service.

TDRS-L went into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:33 p.m. EST.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceNASA

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nick Barber

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?