United Launch Alliance Set To Launch TDRS-M Satellite From Launch Complex 41.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) is set to launch the TDRS-M mission on August 3rd, 2017 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s launch complex 41. ULA will use an Atlas V 401 rocket to launch the communications satellite into orbit. The launch window opens at 9:02 pm EST and closes at 9:42 pm EST. This launch will be ULA’s fifth of 2017 and 120th overall. A ULA Atlas V also launched TDRS-K mission in 2013 and TDRS-L in 2014. This mission will mark the 72nd Atlas V rocket since its inaugural launch in 2002.
About the TDRS-M Mission
The TDRS-M is an American communications satellite operated by NASA as part of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. This will be the thirteenth Tracking and Data Relay Satellite launched following the 2014 launch of TDRS-L.
What is NASA’s Tracking Data Relay System (TDRS)? The TDRS is a network of specialized communication satellites that provide services to a number of NASA spacecraft. The addition of the TDRS-M satellite will enable communication between these spacecraft and Earth for an additional 15 years. This Space Network enables NASA to have near-constant communication between Earth and missions such as the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope. If this Space Network did not exist, scientist, engineers and control staff would not be able to readily access data from these missions.
The TDRS-M communications satellite is being built by Boeing and is based on the BSS-601HP satellite bus. Once the satellite is fully fueled for the mission, it will have a total mass of 7,615 lbs (3,454 kg). With two steerable antennae, the satellite can provide S, Ku and Ka band communications for other spacecraft. It also has an additional array of S-band transponders for lower rate communications with five further satellites. Powered by two solar arrays, which produce 2.8 to 3.2 kilowatts of power to the satellite will be accompanied with a R-4D-11-300 engine to provide propulsion.