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Launch Day for TDRS-K

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Launch Day for TDRS-K Aboard Atlas V

723620maintdrsknight425.jpg

Image above: The Atlas V rocket with the TDRS-K spacecraft aboard at the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: NASA

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The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite project, known as TDRS, provides follow-on and replacement spacecraft necessary to maintain and expand the NASA Space Network. TDRS-K, as the newest satellite is called, is scheduled for launch Jan. 30. TDRS-K is the first of three next-generation satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for NASA by expanding the lifespan of the fleet. Each of the new satellites has a higher performance solar panel design to provide more spacecraft power. This upgrade will return signal processing for the S-Band multiple access service to the ground -- the same as the first-generation TDRS spacecraft. Ground-based processing allows TDRS to service more customers with different and evolving communication requirements.

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Atlas V/TDRS-K Launch Countdown

NASA Launch Commentator George Diller opens the countdown coverage for the Atlas V launch of TDRS-K.

Credit: NASA

Source: NASA - Multimedia

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Atlas V Propellant Loading Under Way

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 11:52:18 PM GMT

The launch team is loading cryogenic propellants into the Atlas V first stage and Centaur upper stage this evening as the countdown moves along on schedule toward a liftoff at 8:48 p.m. EST. The Atlas V first stage operates on refined kerosene and liquid oxygen. The kerosene fuel was pumped into the Atlas V Tuesday. The Centaur engine burns liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. As for the TDRS-K spacecraft itself, it was fueled during processing. It will use its small thrusters to circularize and refine its orbit during the course of 10 days to reach its orbital checkout position about 22,300 miles above Earth.

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Atlas V/Centaur Fueling Complete

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 01:04:28 AM GMT

The Atlas V first stage and Centaur upper stage have been loaded with propellants for tonight's launch. Pumps at the pad will continue to trickle in super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as needed to replace the chemicals as they boil off during the last part of tonight's countdown. The launch team at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida reports no technical issues and the weather remains within limits for liftoff, scheduled for 8:48 p.m. EST at the start of a 40-minute window.

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Countdown Enters Final Built-in Hold, Weather Improves

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 01:23:16 AM GMT

The countdown for launch of NASA's TDRS-K has entered the final planned hold at T-4 minutes. Weather is now 90 percent "go" and there are no constraints at this time. During the 25-minute hold, NASA Launch Manager Tim Dunn and United Launch Alliance Launch Conductor Ed Kitta will poll their teams for a "go-no go" to resume the countdown and launch at 8:48 p.m. EST.

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TDRS-K/Atlas V 'Go' for Launch

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 01:41:58 AM GMT

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V with NASA's TDRS-K spacecraft has been given the final clearance to launch by NASA Launch Manager Tim Dunn and United Launch Alliance Launch Director Ed Kitta. Dunn and Kitta received a unanimous "go" from the launch team this evening to resume the countdown and send the TDRS-K communications satellite into orbit at 8:48 p.m. EST.

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Liftoff! TDRS-K Headed To Orbit!

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 01:48:06 AM GMT

Smoke and fire billows from the first stage of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V this evening as it soars off its launch pad in Florida to lift NASA's TDRS-K spacecraft into orbit. The first stage is powered by an RD-180 engine system that is propelling the rocket and its payload to an orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth. The Centaur upper stage will take over four minutes, two seconds after liftoff when the first stage consumes its propellants.

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All Systems 'Go' as Centaur Takes Over

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 01:53:37 AM GMT

The TDRS-K spacecraft continues its smooth climb into space after the first stage of the Atlas V rocket falls away and the Centaur upper stage engine ignites. The payload fairing that protected the communications satellite during the first part of ascent separated on time and has fallen away to reveal the TDRS to space. The Centaur's engine will pause in a few minutes to begin a coast phase before it reignites to put the TDRS-K on a path to its final destination 22,300 miles above the planet.

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723618maintdrsklaunch72.jpg

Image above: The Atlas V rocket with the TDRS-K spacecraft aboard at the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: NASA

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Centaur Re-ignites for Second Time to Finalize TDRS-K Course

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 03:30:18 AM GMT

The Centaur upper stage attached to the TDRS-K spacecraft re-ignited as planned to lift the TDRS-K into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. The Centaur will separate from the TDRS after the 1-minute burn concludes.

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TDRS-K Flies On Its Own

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 03:35:33 AM GMT

The Centaur upper stage separated from the TDRS-K spacecraft on time, releasing it in a geosynchronous transfer orbit. The TDR-K carries small thrusters that will spend the next 10 days circularizing the spacecraft's orbit at an altitude of 22,300 miles. From that position, the TDRS-K, like the others before it, will be able to relay signals from NASA spacecraft orbiting the Earth to ground stations. TDRS users include the International Space Station, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the agency's fleet of Earth observation satellites.

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