ULA Successfully Launches NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite Payload
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-L) payload at 9:33 p.m. EST on Jan. 23 from Space Launch Complex-41. This was the first of 15 ULA launches scheduled for 2014 and the 78 th ULA launch for ULA in just over seven years.
"ULA and our mission partners are honored to work with the outstanding NASA team and we are proud of the vitally important data relay capabilities that were safely delivered," said Jim Sponnick , ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. "With 43 successful missions spanning a decade of operational service and launched with a one-launch-at-a-time focus on mission success, the Atlas V continues to provide reliable, cost-effective launch services for our nation's most complex and valued payloads."
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This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by a single Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10A-4 engine.
NASA established the TDRS project in 1973, with the first launch in 1983, to provide around-the-clock and around-the-Earth communications for the network that routes voice calls, telemetry streams and television signals from the International Space Station, as well as telemetry and science data from the Hubble Space Telescope and other orbiting spacecraft.
"Atlas and TDRS have supported each other for almost 20 years, and all three of the second generation satellites, now known as TDRS 8, 9, and 10, launched on Atlas vehicles in 2000 and 2002," said Sponnick. "While we were integrating those spacecraft onto Atlas in the late 1990s, we also developed a new TDRS-compatible transmitter so that Atlas could use the TDRS constellation to receive and distribute the launch vehicle telemetry relay during flight. We are now also using TDRS services for our Delta II and Delta IV programs."
ULA's next launch is the Delta IV GPS IIF-5 mission for the Air Force planned for Feb. 20, 2014 , from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
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Source : United Launch Alliance