NASA launched a new satellite on Friday morning, aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral. The launch occurred at just before 8:30 AM ET, after a brief delay from its original planned launch due to a minor technical issue with the booster that was promptly corrected by the launch team.
The satellite, TDSRS-M, will make its way to orbit and then add its capabilities to the existing TDRS constellation, which includes nine other satellites. The role of these geosynchronous spacecraft is to provide data back to Earth from the Hubble space telescope, the International Space Station, and a range of other spacecraft set out on exploratory missions in relatively close proximity to Earth. The expanding constellation is now better able to provide a near-continuous stream of data from those craft to Earth-based research and observation facilities.
This new addition to the network will also help extend the mission, allowing communications through the id-2020s, according to NASA, and it’ll spend the next three to four months becoming operational. This satellite was built by Boeing, as have all of the most recent TDRS constellation members.