Launch Day Arrives for Atlas V, TDRS-M

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's TDRS-M spacecraft is lit by the rising sun at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 on Thursday, Aug. 17.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s TDRS-M spacecraft is lit by the rising sun at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 on Thursday, Aug. 17. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

The countdown is underway for today’s planned liftoff of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M). Launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 is scheduled for 8:03 a.m. EDT at the opening of a 40-minute launch window.

Launch coverage will begin at 7:30 a.m. on NASA’s Launch Blog and on NASA TV.

TDRS-M Prelaunch Programs Today; Weather 80 Percent ‘Go’ for Friday Launch

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) stands on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket rolled out to the pad Wednesday, Aug. 16.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) stands on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket rolled out to the pad Wednesday, Aug. 16. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA TV will broadcast two programs today from Kennedy Space Center in support of the launch of NASA’s next Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) mission atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The programs will be carried live on NASA TV.

A prelaunch news conference will air live on NASA TV at 9 a.m. EDT Launch and mission managers will provide the current status of liftoff preparations and the launch weather forecast, as well as a look ahead at the satellite’s mission to come. This will be followed at 2 p.m. by a prelaunch Social Live briefing at 2 p.m. featuring some of the speakers, as well as NASA astronauts Steve Bowen and Nicole Mann, among other guests.

Launch coverage will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Friday with commentary leading up to the 8:03 a.m. start of a 40-minute launch window. Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are expecting good weather conditions tomorrow morning, with thick clouds the primary concern. The probability of favorable conditions has been upgraded to 80 percent.

Atlas V Rocket with TDRS-M In Place at Launch Pad

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) is in place on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) is in place on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.

TDRS-M is the newest in a series of spacecraft to join the agency’s constellation of communications satellites that allows nearly continuous contact with orbiting spacecraft, including the International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope and more. Liftoff is scheduled for Friday at 8:03 a.m. EDT.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

TDRS-M Launch Weather Remains Favorable for Friday; Atlas V Moves to Pad

A sign at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida notes that a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled to launch in two days. Liftoff of the Atlas V carrying Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) is slated for Friday morning at 8:03 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
A sign at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida notes that a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled to launch in two days. Liftoff of the Atlas V carrying Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) is slated for Friday morning at 8:03 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Photo credit: NASA/Bill White

Only two days remain until the scheduled launch of NASA’s newest addition to the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. The TDRS-M satellite is in place atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and final prelaunch milestones are being checked off in preparation for liftoff Friday morning at 8:03 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron has issued today’s launch weather forecast. Meteorologists continue to predict a 70 percent chance of “go” weather at liftoff time, with thick clouds and cumulus clouds the primary concerns.

The Atlas V rocket is on the move this morning, making the short trek from the launch complex’s Vertical Integration Facility, where it was stacked and tested ahead of the flight, to the launch pad. The rollout is the final preflight move for the rocket and spacecraft, which will finish out the day in position for launch on Friday morning.

TDRS-M Spacecraft Secured in Payload Fairing, Delivered to Launch Complex

Inside the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Florida, the payload fairing for NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M, is moved into position to encapsulate the spacecraft. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Inside the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Florida, the payload fairing for NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M, is moved into position to encapsulate the spacecraft. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) has passed two more milestones as preparations continue toward liftoff. Launch of the newest addition to the agency’s TDRS constellation is slated for Aug. 18 at 8:03 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Processing activities at the Astrotech payload processing facility in nearby Titusville wrapped up with the TDRS-M spacecraft safely encapsulated in the payload fairing that will protect it through the early minutes of liftoff. The fairing arrived at the launch complex Aug. 9 after an early morning move from Astrotech. Now in position atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, the vehicle and spacecraft will undergo additional testing ahead of launch.

TDRS-M Flight Ready, Aug. 18 Launch Date Approved

The Omni S-band antenna on NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M) has been successfully removed and replaced at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida.  An unrelated electrostatic discharge incident has also been resolved, and launch processing has resumed.  The spacecraft has been moved from the fueling stand and is now mated to the launch vehicle adapter as part of integrated operations with ULA.

The TDRS-M spacecraft is flight ready, and the Eastern Range has recently approved Aug. 18 as the launch date.  NASA, Boeing, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are targeting a 40-minute launch window that would open at 8:03 a.m. EDT. TDRS-M will launch on an ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Delta IV Heavy Booster Cores Arrive for Parker Solar Probe

Framed by a series of cabbage palms, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy common booster core is transported by truck to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 37 Horizontal Processing Facility after arriving at Port Canaveral. The Delta IV Heavy will launch NASA's upcoming Parker Solar Probe mission. The mission will perform the closest-ever observations of a star when it travels through the Sun's atmosphere, called the corona. The probe will rely on measurements and imaging to revolutionize our understanding of the corona and the Sun-Earth connection. Liftoff atop the Delta IV Heavy rocket is scheduled to take place from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 37 in summer 2018.
Framed by a series of cabbage palms, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy common booster core is transported by truck to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 37 Horizontal Processing Facility after arriving at Port Canaveral. The Delta IV Heavy will launch NASA’s upcoming Parker Solar Probe mission. Photo credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Launch preparations are beginning to get off the ground for NASA’s upcoming Parker Solar Probe mission, scheduled to lift off in summer 2018 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket.

Two of the three common booster cores comprising the rocket’s first stage have arrived on the company’s Mariner ship, which delivered the components to Port Canaveral in Florida. From there the cores were offloaded and transported to the Horizontal Processing Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37.

The Parker Solar Probe will perform the closest-ever observations of a star when it travels through the Sun’s atmosphere, called the corona. The probe will rely on measurements and imaging to revolutionize our understanding of the corona and the Sun-Earth connection.

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TDRS-M Status Update – July 26, 2017

NASA has provided Boeing concurrence to remove and replace the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite’s (TDRS-M) Omni S-band forward antenna. Pending Eastern Range approval, NASA, Boeing, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are now targeting Aug. 20 for launch. A 40-minute launch window would open at 7:56 a.m. EDT. This new date allows for time to replace the antenna, which was damaged earlier this month while Boeing was conducting final spacecraft closeout activities at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. TDRS-M will launch atop an ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

TDRS-M Status Update – July 21, 2017

NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are reviewing a new launch date in August for the agency’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M). NASA and Boeing need additional time to replace the spacecraft’s Omni S-band antenna at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. A separate possible ground support equipment issue at Astrotech still is being assessed. TDRS-M will launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It is the latest satellite in a fleet of satellites supporting the space segment of the NASA’s Space Network.

TDRS-M Status Update – July 20, 2017

NASA and Boeing are reviewing plans to safely replace an antenna on the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M). The satellite’s Omni S-band antenna was damaged during spacecraft closeout activities July 14 at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. The TDRS team is also evaluating a possible electrostatic discharge event involving spacecraft mechanical ground support equipment. An integrated launch team is assessing the Aug. 3 launch date on an United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. TDRS-M is the latest satellite to support the space segment of NASA’s Space Network.