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TDRS Activities

NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS) provide communications services to NASA’s most storied missions. Since 1983, NASA has launched a constellation of TDRS that reside in geosynchronous orbit, which is a high-altitude orbit of about 22,000 miles. With this orbit, TDRS remains above the same relative point on the ground as the planet rotates. This means TDRS have a wider view of Earth and near-Earth space where most spacecraft operate than the lower-orbit-user spacecraft do.  

TDRS serves as a bent-pipe relay system transmitting user data between spacecraft and the ground. As spacecraft orbit Earth, TDRS collects their data and sends it back down to NASA ground stations. It also completes this process in reverse, allowing users on the ground to command their spacecraft.

TDRS is crucial to provide two-way communications 24/7 from Earth to space and back. Increased connectivity ensures the health and safety of humans and spacecraft in space! And with NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions, sending the first woman and first person of color to the Moon, connecting our astronauts to Earth is more important than ever. TDRS will be a critical component during Artemis mission launches. Here, you can learn more about TDRS with these fun activities.

Build Your Own TDRS

Print the PDFs below and follow the assembly instructions to build your own TDRS and help relay data back to Earth.

Build Your Own TDRS
Build Your Own TDRS (White Version)

Build Your Own TDRS Activity Page 1
The “Build Your Own TDRS” activity.

Interactive Games

Learn about the technology behind TDRS-M while helping SCaN construct the satellite and continue the constellation.

Build Your Own TDRS Game

Explore the Build Your Own TDRS online game.

Line of Sight Activity

Print the PDF below and follow the instructions to learn how line of sight affects satellite communications.

Line of Sight Activity

Line of Site Activity

Coloring Pages

Draw the TDRS

Earth Day TDRS Coloring Page

TDRS Coloring Sheet

A Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) coloring sheet. Three TDRS orbit Earth.
Tracking Data and Relay Satellite coloring page.

Fact Sheets

TDRS: Providing Around the Clock Coverage (Overview)

TDRS: Four Decades of Launches (Launch Facts)

TDRS: Continuing the Critical Lifeline (Fact Sheet)

A Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) overview fact sheet. NASA’s TDRS provides communications services to NASA’s most storied missions.
Tracking Data and Relay Satellite fact sheet.