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.

Centaur Upper Stage in Place Atop Atlas V

At the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United Launch Alliance team members mate a Centaur upper stage to an Atlas V booster. The rocket is scheduled to launch the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M.At the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United Launch Alliance team members mate a Centaur upper stage to an Atlas V booster. The rocket is scheduled to launch the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M.The Centaur upper stage has been installed atop its United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.

The rocket is slated to launch the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M. It will be the latest spacecraft destined for the agency’s constellation of communications satellites that allows nearly continuous contact with orbiting spacecraft ranging from the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope to the array of scientific observatories. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41 is scheduled for early August.

Photo credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett

TDRS-M Status Update – July 15, 2017

NASA and Boeing are reviewing an incident that occurred with the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M) on July 14 at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. The satellite’s Omni S-band antenna was damaged during final spacecraft closeout activities. The mission team is currently assessing flight acceptance and schedule. TDRS-M is planned to launch Aug. 3, 2017, on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

TDRS-M Spacecraft, Atlas V Rocket Take Strides Toward Launch

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V first stage is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V first stage is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Inside the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Florida, NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M, is undergoing final checkouts prior to encapsulation in its payload fairing.
Credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

NASA’s next addition to the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System and the rocket that will deliver it to space are achieving significant prelaunch milestones this week.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is coming together in the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 on Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The first-stage booster was transported to the launch complex and lifted into position yesterday. The Centaur upper stage will be installed today atop the first stage.

Meanwhile, at the Astrotech payload processing facility in nearby Titusville, local news media got a chance to see the TDRS-M spacecraft before it is affixed to the payload attach fitting in preparation for encapsulation inside the Atlas V payload fairing next week.