Atlas V Rocket For TDRS-M Mission Begins Prelaunch Checkouts

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. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

June 29, 2017 – 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 is now inside the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center and the Centaur is in the Delta Operations Center.

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. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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.

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.