A spectacular nighttime blastoff lit up the evening skies for hundreds of miles around the Florida Space coast on a mission that sent a critical NASA communications relay satellite to orbit.
NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite L (TDRS-L) is now safely in orbit following tonight’s successful launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Atlas V rocket was launched at 9:33 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 41 into crystal clear skies that gave excited spectators an uncommonly long and stunning launch spectacle that was well worth the wait.
The 3.8 ton TDRS-L satellite will become part of a network providing high-data-rate communications to the International Space Station (ISS), Hubble Space Telescope, launch vehicles and a host of other research spacecraft that relay absolutely critical flight, telemetry and science data.
The recently launched Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo carrier also relays data via the TDRS system.
The ISS, Hubble and all these other spacecraft could not function without the TDRS network of relay satellites.