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 PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceNASA

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?