TDRS-6 in orbit
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On-orbit longevity has been a hallmark of NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) family that inaugurated a new era in spacecraft communications nearly 30 years ago.
The sixth satellite in the first generation of TDRS spacecraft will observe 20 years in orbit on January 13, 2013, ten years beyond its planned mission life. Since being launched by the Space Shuttle Endeavour, TDRS-6 has not only transmitted stunning images of the universe from the Hubble Space Telescope to Earth, but has also delivered pictures, television, voice, and data from the International Space Station.
TRW, now known as Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, CA, built the first seven satellites as a subcontractor to the Space Communications Company in the 1980s and early 1990s.