Washington - July 1, 2000 - NASA newest Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-H (TDRS-H) lifted off yesterday morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. at 8:56 a.m. EDT June 30, aboard an Atlas IIA rocket. About 30 minutes later the spacecraft separated from the Centaur's upper stage.
The Air Force Control Facility, located on the island of Diego Garcia, acquired the initial signal from the satellite 36 minutes into the mission.
About 25 minutes later, ground controllers obtained data from the satellite during its first pass over Canberra, Australia. The next major milestone occurred at 1:51 p.m. with the unfurling of the spacecraft's 15-foot diameter antenna reflectors.
"Everyone on the TDRS project worked extremely hard to get to this point," said TDRS Project Manager Tony Comberiate of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "It's exciting to know we've launched a spacecraft that will vastly improve twenty-first century communications and data relay services for users around the world."
TDRS-H is the first of three new satellites that features improved multiple access and S-band single access performance, along with a new high frequency Ka-band service.
Innovative design features also include a pair of 15-foot diameter graphite mesh reflectors, which furl easily for launch and spring back to their original shape once on orbit.
Hughes Mission Control Center in El Segundo, Calif. will assume responsibility for satellite commanding via NASA's Deep Space Network/Ground Network beginning with spacecraft separation through completion of transfer orbit maneuvers, appendage deployments, acquisition of Earth pointing in geostationary orbit and spacecraft bus on-orbit testing.
About 10 days after launch, a series of orbit raising maneuvers will boost the spacecraft to a geosynchronous orbit about 22,300 miles or 35,888 kilometers above the Earth's equator.
Upon reaching its intended orbit, TDRS-H will transition to its numerical designation, TDRS-8. Controllers located at NASA's White Sands (New Mexico) Complex will then assume satellite commanding for payload in-orbit acceptance testing at 151 degrees West longitude.
After acceptance testing, controllers will move TDRS-8 to its operational slot at 171 degrees West longitude, where it will share a position with TDRS-7.
"The intent is twofold," said Roger Flaherty, Space Network Project Manager at Goddard. "TDRS-8 will not only provide operational support to its customers, but demonstrate NASA's ability to co-locate spacecraft should it be necessary in the future due to slot availability."
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