All systems go for next communication spacecraft

Nov 21, 2011
Three TDRS satellites, the International Space Station (ISS) and Hubble Space Telescope orbit a blue-green Earth in this artist's concept. The TDRS network facilitates around the clock communication access between ground stations and other satellites and the ISS. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

The most recent evaluations of NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) project confirmed all systems go for a third generation upgrade of the orbiting communications network. TDRS-K is scheduled for launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida in the fall of 2012.

Approval to move forward came during a recent Agency Project Management Council (APMC) meeting at NASA Headquarters. "I am very proud of the entire TDRS civil servant and contractor team for successfully completing this milestone and demonstrating that the TDRS project is ready to proceed into the integration phase," said Jeff Gramling, TDRS Project Manager. "I am excited to see the TDRS-K satellite enter the thermal vacuum chamber and begin environmental testing." Testing will occur within the Boeing Space Systems Facility in El Segundo, California.

APMC approval allows the project to enter Phase D that will include spacecraft integration and testing. During this phase the spacecraft reflectors will be mounted, the thermal panels and batteries will be installed before the spacecraft will have to endure the rigors of the vibration and acoustic testing. Finally, the spacecraft must pass a pre-ship review prior to being transported to Florida for .

Prior to the APMC approval, the project successfully completed a combined Pre-Environment Review (PER) and Systems Integration Review (SIR) in August of this year. The SIR is a significant milestone in the lifecycle. During the upcoming environmental test phase, various segments and subsystems are scrutinized for their viability under the same they will endure within the vacuum of space.

"Successful completion of the environmental testing phase of the project will be the last step before we ship the TDRS-K spacecraft to the launch site," said Dave Littmann, TDRS Deputy Project Manager. "Through a rigorous testing program, we will ensure this satellite, once on-orbit, is capable of meeting its functional and performance requirements, to provide reliable services to the customers of NASA's Space Network."

This next generation space communications satellite is part of a follow-on spacecraft fleet being developed and deployed to replenish NASA's Space Network. The TDRS Project Office at Goddard Space Flight Center manages the TDRS development effort. TDRS is the responsibility of the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) office within the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. Operations of the network is the responsibility of the Space Network Project at Goddard.

In December 2007, NASA signed a contract for Boeing Space Systems to build two, third generation TDRS spacecraft for launch in 2012 and 2013. Within the contract were the required modifications that will enable the White Sands Complex ground system to support the new spacecraft.

The launch of TDRS-K will begin the replenishment of the fleet through the development and deployment of the next generation . These satellites will ensure NASA's Space Network continues to provide around-the-clock, high throughput communications services to NASA's missions and serving the scientific community and human spaceflight program for years to come.

Explore further: Liquid crystal bubble OASIS in space

Related Stories

TDRS spacecraft pass system level reviews

Feb 22, 2010

NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) K-L program completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) and Production Readiness Review (PRR) in El Segundo, Calif. on Feb. 19.

Sophisticated weather satellite rockets into orbit

Jun 28, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The latest Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-O, soared into space today after a successful launch from Space Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station ...

Satellite Used in Polar Research Enters Retirement

Jun 25, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- After a long career providing communications support, NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) 1 is retiring. From 1983 to 1998, TDRS-1 allowed NASA to talk to other satellites in orbit. ...

Recommended for you

Radio silence as Russia tries to contact space cargo

19 minutes ago

Russia will try again in the coming hours to make contact with an unmanned cargo ship after communications were lost following the spacecraft's launch toward the International Space Station, NASA said Tuesday.

Strong evidence for coronal heating theory presented

3 hours ago

The Sun's surface is blisteringly hot at 6,000 kelvins or 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit—but its atmosphere is another 300 times hotter. This has led to an enduring mystery for those who study the Sun: What ...

The view from up there, down here

6 hours ago

When many people saw the first stunning photos of the fragile blue marble of Earth from space, it changed their outlook of humanity. It was a singular moment in time when people around the world were watching ...

The weird ways fire behaves in space (w/ Video)

7 hours ago

Light a match on earth and you can expect the flame to shoot up in a tapering bulb. But light that match in space and you might not even recognize the small, blue orb at the tip. That's because fire behaves ...

Russia loses comms with ISS cargo spacecraft (Update)

10 hours ago

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station were left with a long wait Tuesday to get their latest food and fuel deliveries after an unmanned Russian supply ship lost communications following takeoff.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.