Kennedy News

George Diller
Kennedy Space Center

Oct. 17, 2002
RELEASE : 102-02
TDRS-J Satellite Arrives At KSC To Begin Launch Preparations
The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-J (TDRS-J) arrived at 6:10 a.m. EDT today at KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility aboard an Air Force C-17 air cargo plane. It was offloaded and taken to the Spacecraft Assembly and Encapsulation Facility-2 (SAEF-2) at the Kennedy Space Center.

TDRS-J is the third in the current series of three Tracking and Data Relay Satellites designed to replenish the existing on-orbit fleet of six spacecraft, the first of which was launched in 1983. The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System is the primary source of space-to-ground voice, data and telemetry for the Space Shuttle. It also provides communications with the International Space Station and scientific spacecraft in low-earth orbit such as the Hubble Space Telescope, and launch support for some expendable vehicles. This new advanced series of satellites will extend the availability of TDRS communications services until approximately 2017.

This generation of TDRS satellites adds Ka-band capability to the TDRS fleet allowing for higher data rates using a more favorable and less heavily used frequency band. The first satellite in the current series, TDRS-H, was launched in June 2000.

TDRS-J weighs 3,338 pounds, but at launch will weigh 7,031 pounds when fully fueled with its propellants consisting of monomethyl hydrazine fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer. The solar arrays, when deployed, will supply the spacecraft with up to 2,200 watts of power.

At SAEF-2, TDRS-J will undergo a series of electrical tests lasting about one week, and the spacecraft batteries will also be charged. That will be followed by two days of propulsion system leak checks. Three days of fueling activities begin on Oct. 29. Spacecraft closeouts then occur followed by mating TDRS-J to the Atlas payload adapter. The activities to encapsulate the spacecraft into the Atlas payload fairing begin Nov. 7.

On Nov. 12, TDRS-J will be transported to Space Launch Complex 36 and mated to the Lockheed Martin Atlas IIA launch vehicle on Pad A. This is to be followed by a Combined Electrical Readiness Test (CERT), an integrated test between the spacecraft and the Atlas. The spacecraft batteries will then receive a final charge in preparation for launch and a spacecraft functional test will be performed. The spacecraft is then placed in its launch configuration as the final flight readiness activity.

The TDRS-J spacecraft is built for NASA by Boeing Satellite Systems of El Segundo, Calif. The TDRS project is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Launch vehicle technical oversight, mission integration, and launch countdown management are by NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

TDRS-J is currently scheduled to be launched into geosynchronous-transfer orbit aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas IIA rocket (AC-144) from Pad 36-A on Nov. 20, 2002. The launch window extends from 10:36 to 11:16 p.m. EST. This is the 24th and final Lockheed Martin Atlas IIA model launch vehicle (no solid rocket boosters) and has a 100 percent success rate. The on-orbit TDRS network will transmit data on the second Centaur upper stage burn and also the TDRS-J spacecraft separation that occurs 29 minutes, 36 seconds after launch.


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