NASA on Friday launched the latest in a series of satellites aimed at ensuring astronauts at the International Space Station can communicate with Earth. The US$408 million (RM1.7 billion) Boeing-made Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M) soared into space atop an Atlas V rocket that launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:29am (1229 GMT, 8.29pm Malaysia).
The satellite will “support critical space communication into the mid-2020s,” Nasa said in a statement. The satellite will facilitate space-to-ground communication for Nasa’s low-Earth orbit operations, “ensuring scientists, engineers and control room staff can readily access data for missions like the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.”
TDRS-M is the last of 13 such satellites that have been launched since 1983. An antenna on the satellite was damaged last month at a processing facility in Titusville, Florida. The satellite was repaired, but the mishap set the launch back by about two weeks. — AFP