Launch News Atlas V 401 launch with TDRS-K, January 30/31, 2013

Cosmic Penguin

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They are the messengers between spacecrafts and the ground, serving loyally for the past 30 years. They are the communication backbone of NASA's human spaceflight program, providing the vital link between Houston and the space shuttles and the ISS. They provide 100% time coverage of ground communication opportunities for various NASA spacecrafts and even other customers (including the NRO spy satellites!) to the ground without the hassle of setting up multiple ground stations. They can even support real time communications with high altitude balloons and rockets firing towards orbit (Atlas V / Delta IV / Sea Launch Zenit etc.).

They are the Tracking and Data Relay Satellites.

The family started out with six satellites deployed from Space Shuttle orbiters (plus TDRS-B, one of the victims of the accident on one January morning 27 years ago). Three more (TDRS-H/I/J) were later launched on Atlas IIA rockets, but even the youngest is already more than a decade old.

Enter the newest member of the family, TDRS-K.

Build on the tried and true Boeing BSS 601 satellite bus, the satellite is an improved variant of the older TDRS-H series, with its antenna beaming power and on board data processing abilities increased. The satellite will initially be stationed at 174 degrees West (over the Pacific Ocean) for check out and back up duties. At least two more satellites will follow over the next two years.

The Atlas V rocket (flying in the basic 401 configuration) will be launched at 8:48 pm EST (01:48 UTC) from Cape Canaveral's SLC-41. It will be deployed into the planned transfer orbit 1 hour 46 minutes after launch.

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Launch date:​
January 30/31, 2013
Launch time:​
01:48 UTC / 8:48 p.m. EST / 5:48 p.m. PST
Launch site:​
SLC-41, Cape Canaveral AFB, Florida

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[highlight]L[eventtimer]2013-1-31 01:48:00;%c%%ddd%/%hh%:%mm%:%ss%[/eventtimer][/highlight]​
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This is the 35th operational flight of the Atlas V rocket and the 15th to fly in the 401 configuration with no solid rocket boosters and the 4 meter diameter fairing.

Viewing the Launch Live:
on the ULA Web site.

Mission Description:
NASA established the TDRS project in 1973 to provide around-the-clock communications to the agency's most critical missions in low Earth orbit. The TDRS Project is providing follow-on and replacement spacecraft necessary to maintain and expand the Space Network.

Mission Insignia (clickable)
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Launch Vehicle:
The Atlas V 401 consists of a single Atlas V booster stage, the Centaur upper stage, and a 4-m diameter payload fairing (PLF). The Atlas V booster is 12.5 ft in diameter and 106.5 ft in length. The booster’s tanks are structurally rigid and constructed of isogrid aluminum barrels, spun-formed aluminum domes, and intertank skirts. Atlas booster propulsion is provided by the RD-180 engine system (a single engine with two thrust chambers). The RD-180 burns RP-1 (Rocket Propellant-1 or highly purified kerosene) and liquid oxygen, and delivers 860,200 lb of thrust at sea level. The Atlas V booster is controlled by the Centaur avionics system, which provides guidance, flight control, and vehicle sequencing functions during the booster and Centaur phases of flight. The Centaur upper stage is 10 ft in diameter and 41.5 ft in length. Its propellant tanks are constructed of pressure-stabilized, corrosion resistant stainless steel. Centaur is a liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen- (cryogenic-) fueled vehicle. It uses a single RL10A-4-2 engine producing 22,300 lb of thrust. The cryogenic tanks are insulated with a combination of helium-purged insulation blankets, radiation shields, and spray-on foam insulation (SOFI). The Centaur forward adapter (CFA) provides the structural mountings for the fault-tolerant avionics system and the structural and electrical interfaces with the spacecraft. The TDRS-K mission is encapsulated in the 4-m (14-ft) diameter extended payload fairing (EPF). The EPF is a bisector (two-piece shell) fairing consisting of aluminum skin/stringer construction with vertical split-line longerons. The vehicle’s height with the EPF is approximately 192 ft.​


Launch Updates:
Photos, videos and Orbiter goodies about this flight will come very soon. :thumbup:​
 

Cosmic Penguin

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More photos at http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/search.cfm?cat=266
 

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The team has given GO for launch. Spacecraft on internal power. T-4 and holding (yet for another 3 minutes).
 

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T-4 minutes and counting.
 

Star Voyager

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Good launch as seen from Tampa. Congrats to the ULA, USAF and NASA team :cheers:!
 

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Keatah

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That atlas is a slow riser isn't it?

Anyways, these TDRS satellites (and space telescopes) are the most sexiest and awesome things ever!

http://tdrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/Multimedia/183/207.html

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj7vpCTLK-8&NR=1"][Atlas V] Animation of TDRS-K Deploying Antennas In Orbit - YouTube[/ame]
 
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DaveS

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That atlas is a slow riser isn't it?
That's only because this was a 401. Any version with SRBs pretty much jumps off the pad and the same is true for any LV with solids.
 

N_Molson

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Nice work ! And those images are perfectly awesome ! :thumbup:
 

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Atlas 5 Rocket Question?

My wife and I watched last nights launch, 01/30/2013 of the Atlas 5 from a vantage point of 14 miles south of SLC-41 and was impressed. They do magic at the Space Center. I wish we could have been closer as I am sure mst others do too. Maybe next time?

I have a question. What happens to the Centaur and payload faring after the TDR-K satellite is employed?

Thank you,

Joe Skaggs
Rogers, Arkansas
 
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