NASA's new communications satellite, the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-L, will launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Jan. 23. The space agency has set a 40-minute launch window beginning at 9:05 p.m. EST and the live stream begins at 6:30 p.m. EST.
According to NASA, TDRS-L will bolster its communications between ground and orbiting spacecraft. TDRS-L will join 10 other satellites in the system and will communicate with the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and other scientific satellites. Tim Dunn, NASA launch director, said of TDRS-L and the TDRS system in a statement, "The TDRS constellation brings back all of the data and video that we see every day from the International Space Station. TDRS also supports all of the data from the Hubble Space Telescope and all of our low Earth orbit NASA science missions."
TDRS-L will be launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket which will send it 22,300 miles into orbit. NASA launched the TDRS-K satellite on Jan. 31, 2013 and the space agency said the TDRS-L is almost identical to that satellite. Due to the familiarity with the design and testing of the satellite, NASA said the pre-launch has gone "very smoothly." Brett Perkins, launch site integration manager at Astrotech, said in a statement, "It's fun when everything goes right and so far the flow has gone really smoothly. The fact that nothing has gone wrong with this flow took a lot of the stress out of it."
The satellite was rolled out to the launch pad on Jan. 22 and crew members are fueling up the rocket and performing final tests ahead of the scheduled launch window. Diana Calero, NASA mission manager, described the final moments before launch in a statement, "Everyone's staring at their data, your ear's tuned to see if you hear anything and right as you go down to the final countdown and it lifts off, OK, now you made it through the count, that's great. Then you're listening to everything as it's going up to make sure everything is nominal."
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