The TDRS-L satellite is safely in orbit and will soon add its capabilities to the TDRS System, ensuring dependable space-to-ground communication support for Earth-orbiting spacecraft today and in the future. The satellite launched from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 9:33 p.m. EST.
“We’ve confirmed we’ve got a healthy spacecraft,” Dunn said. “The launch team is thrilled, and as you can imagine, the spacecraft team is even more thrilled.”
This brings our live coverage to a close. To keep up with TDRS-L’s status and other TDRS System news, visit http://tdrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/.
Thanks for joining us!
TDRS-L has been acquired through the Dongara tracking station in Australia.
“So the spacecraft is now on its own, and phoned home,” said NASA Launch Commentator George Diller.
One hour and 46 minutes into the flight, TDRS-L is free of the Centaur and flying in an orbit ranging from 2,613 to 19,324 nautical miles. The Atlas V rocket and Centaur upper stage performed their jobs well during tonight’s ascent, putting the newest addition to the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System on the right path to join its counterparts.
With the last burn now complete, the Centaur will maneuver into separation attitude and spin up to five revolutions per minute to prepare for the release of TDRS-L. Spacecraft separation is coming up in a little less than 5 minutes.
This is a short burn for the Centaur engine. In a little more than a minute, the burn will end with the Centaur’s second, and final, engine cutoff.
The long coast phase is coming to an end. In about 10 minutes, the Centaur’s RL10 engine will fire up again for a quick burn to move TDRS-L into place for spacecraft separation.
The second – and final – burn of the Centaur engine will position TDRS-L to be deployed in a transfer orbit. Shortly after separation from the Centaur, the satellite’s two single-access antennas will release just enough to allow them to take their rounded shape.
TDRS-L will spend the next 11 days maneuvering to its final destination in Earth orbit. Then it’s time for the satellite to start the deployment process. The first solar array will unfold, followed by the two single-access antennas and the second solar array. Deployment of the Space-to-Ground Link and Omni antenna complete the sequence, and at that point the satellite can begin three months of testing and calibration before it’s considered ready for service.
While we’re passing the time during the coast phase, tell us — did you catch tonight’s launch? Were you close enough to go outside for a glimpse, or far enough away to watch on TV or online (or both)?
Tell us in the comments!
While we’ll post highlights from tonight’s countdown and launch, all of our countdown and launch videos will be included in our TDRS-L playlist in YouTube.
Find it here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLStC43yAV6zQzMD79Slcz4OTRx23ju8lD