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

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

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

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?