NASA launches last of its longtime tracking satellites
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.-NASA has launched the last of its longtime tracking and communication satellites.
The end of the era came with Friday morning's liftoff of TDRS-M (T-driss-M), the 13th satellite that's part of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite network. An unmanned Atlas V rocket provided the lift from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
NASA has been launching TDRS satellites since 1983. The 22,300-mile-high constellation links ground controllers with the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and other low-orbiting craft.
This newest satellite cost $408 million. The price tag jumps to $540 million with the rocket. The flight was delayed two weeks after a crane hit one of the satellite's antennas last month. Satellite maker Boeing replaced the damaged antenna and took corrective action to prevent future accidents. Worker error was blamed.
Photo courtesy of NASA.