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.

Atlas V Rocket for TDRS-M Mission Begins Prelaunch Checkouts

NASA's TDRS-M satellite arrives inside its shipping container at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, aboard a U.S. Air Force transport aircraft.
NASA’s TDRS-M satellite arrives inside its shipping container at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, aboard a U.S. Air Force transport aircraft. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

At Port Canaveral in Florida, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V first stage booster and Centaur upper stage are about to be transported from the company's Mariner ship to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will provide a boost for the next in NASA’s constellation of Tracking and Data Relay Satellites has arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The company’s Mariner cargo ship delivered the rocket’s first stage and Centaur upper stage to the Army Wharf at Port Canaveral on Monday afternoon. After unloading Tuesday morning, the components were transported by truck to their respective processing areas on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where they’ll be readied for launch. The first stage now is inside the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center and the Centaur is in the Delta Operations Center.

The TDRS-M spacecraft arrived in Florida on Friday, June 23 and is going through its prelaunch paces at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in nearby Titusville. Launch of TDRS-M aboard the Atlas V is slated for August 3 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.

Photo at right: At Port Canaveral in Florida, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V first stage booster and Centaur upper stage are about to be transported from the company’s Mariner ship to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

TDRS-M Spacecraft Arrives in Florida for Prelaunch Preparations

TDRS-M arrives at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida.The next addition to NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) System has arrived in Florida to begin processing for its August launch. The TDRS-M satellite, secured in a shipping container, was delivered Friday aboard a cargo aircraft that touched down at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center. The spacecraft then was transported to the Astrotech Space Operations facility to begin preparations for launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

TDRS-M will expand the capabilities of NASA’s Space Network to support space communication for an additional 15 years. The network consists of TDRS satellites that transmit data to and from ground stations on Earth for NASA missions and expendable launch vehicles. The Space Network allows scientists, engineers and control room staff to readily access data from missions like the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.

Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of El Segundo, California, built TDRS-M. NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Program, a part of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, is responsible for the TDRS network. Launch management of the Atlas V launch service for TDRS-M is the responsibility of the mission directorate’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett