TDRS
History

The concept behind the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) was born out of NASA's effort to rely less heavily on international ground stations and create long-duration and highly available communication coverage.

The TDRS project was established in 1973.  The prime design goal was to provide continuous, around the clock communications services to NASA's most critical low earth-orbiting missions, and improve the amount of data that could be received.  Launches of TDRS spacecraft began in the 1980s and have continued through the new millennium.  Most of these satellites are still operational today (with a number of them operating beyond their design life), while more Tracking and Data Relay Satellites are being built for replenishment in 2013, 2014, and 2015 (TDRS K, L, and M). 

Since its inception, there have been 10 TDRS launched by NASA. TRW, now known at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, CA, built the first six satellites as a subcontractor to the Space Communications Company in the 1980s and early 1990s. Originally, only six TDRS were ordered. However, TDRS 7 was ordered as a sole source from TRW as a replacement after TDRS 2 was lost aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986. TDRS H, I, and J (known as the Second Generation TDRS) were built by Hughes (now Boeing) in El Segundo, CA in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The contract to develop the third generation TDRS was awarded to Boeing in December of 2007. The primary difference between the Second Generation and the Third Generation is the shift from on-orbit beamforming of the S-band Multiple Access Return services to Ground Based beamforming (GBBF) (a return from spacecraft onboard beamforming to the first generation architecture).  TDRS K launched January 30, 2013, TDRS L launched January 23, 2014, and TDRS M is scheduled for launch in 2015.  The contract still has an option for one additional spacecraft, TDRS N.

The TDRS Project provides follow-on spacecraft necessary to maintain and expand the Space Network. This program also includes modifications to the WSC ground segment required to support these spacecraft.

Launch History:

Satellite

Launch Date / Vehicle

Current Status

Mission Patch

TDRS-1

April 4, 1983

STS-6 Challenger

Kennedy Space Center

Decommissioned in June 2010

TDRS-2

January 28, 1986

STS-51L Challenger

Kennedy Space Center

Lost in the Challenger Accident.

TDRS-3

September 29, 1988

STS-26 Discovery

Kennedy Space Center

On orbit, currently in storage, located off the Northeast Coast of Brazil

TDRS-4

March 13, 1989

STS-29 Discovery

Kennedy Space Center

Decommissioned in December 2011

TDRS-5

August 2, 1991

STS-43 Atlantis

Kennedy Space Center

In service, currently located at the Pacific Ocean above the Phoenix Islands

TDRS-6

January 13, 1993

STS-54 Endeavour

Kennedy Space Center

In service, located off the Northeast Coast of Brazil

TDRS-7

July 13, 1995

STS-70, Discovery

Kennedy Space Center

In service, currently located above the Indian Ocean

TDRS-8

June 30, 2000

Atlas IIA

Cape Canaveral

In service, currently located above the Indian Ocean

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TDRS-9

March 8, 2002

Atlas IIA

Cape Canaveral

In service, located off the Northeast Coast of Brazil

Description: tdrslogohij.gif

TDRS-10

December 4, 2002

Atlas IIA

Cape Canaveral

In service, currently located at the Pacific Ocean above the Phoenix Islands

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TDRS-11

January 30, 2013

Atlas V

Cape Canaveral

Ongoing in service testing, currently located in the Pacific Ocean Region

TDRS-12

January 23, 2014

Atlas V

Cape Canaveral

Ongoing on orbit testing 

TDRS-M

Planned for 2015

TBD

Cape Canaveral