NASA, ULA & ATLAS V TO LAUNCH THE TDRS-L COMM SATELLITE.
Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC): CLICK on the photo for a larger size and see below for links and information.
Tomorrow, Thursday January 23, at 2105 EDT (0205 UTC on the 24th) a United launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V-401 Rocket designated (AV-043) will be launching the Tracking & Data Relay Satellite System (TDRS-L) for NASA from Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41 or SLICK-41) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in its 401 Configuration.
WHAT ARE THE TDRS SATELLITES?
The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System is NASA’s network of specialized communications satellites that orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth. As the name suggests, the satellites relay signals between spacecraft including the International Space Station and ground control stations on Earth. The spacecraft are a vast improvement over the string of ground stations that were used in the past to communicate with spacecraft for short periods of time as they passed over or near the stations. With the TDRS spacecraft in place, spacecraft including Earth-observing missions and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have near-constant communication links to Earth.
The Atlas-5 (V) rocket is a two-stage rocket that stands 191.3ft (58.3m) tall with a diameter of 12.5ft (3.81m) and consists of an Atlas Common Core Booster with a Russian RD-180 engine and first stage with a United States RL-10 Centaur upper stage built by AeroJet Rocketdyne.
401 configuration explained.
4 = 4.2 meter fairing (head of the rocket)
0 = 0 external solid rocket boosters
1 = 1 single engine upper (second) stage named Centaur.
Want more Atlas-V-401 detail….ok!
MAIN PAYLOAD FAIRING: The Main Payload Fairing for the Atlas-V-401 is a two-shell, 4.2 meter (diameter) fairing and is used to protect the spacecraft during its ascent through atmospheric turbulence and into space. Once safely out of Earth’s atmosphere (Or at least most of it), the fairing splits and is jettisoned.
CENTAUR UPPER STAGE: The Centaur Upper stage consists of a single Cryogenic RL-10A-4-2 (RL-10) Aerojet Rocketdyne Engine that utilizes liquid hydrogen (LH2) for propellant and liquid oxygen (LOX) as an oxidizer with a burn time of up to 740 seconds to include multiple engine firings. There are also four 27-N (Newton) thrusters and eight 40-N (Newton) thrusters used for attitude control. Both utilize hydrazine as propellant.
COMMON CORE BOOSTER (First-Stage): The American Atlas-V Common Booster Core is 106.5ft (32.46m) in length by 12.5ft (3.81m) in diameter and is powered by a single two-chamber Russian RD-180 engine that utilizes Rocket Propellant-1 (RP-1 or Kerosene) as propellant and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) as the oxidizer and can burn for 253 seconds. The RD-180 engine is modeled after the 4-chanber RD-170 engines used by the Zenit rocket family.
Watch TDRS-L launch LIVE:
NASA TDRS-L page: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdrs/home/
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) mission page: http://tdrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) processing photos: http://tdrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/Multimedia/183/384.html
United Launch Alliance ULA Twitter: https://twitter.com/ulalaunch
Patrick AFB (45th Space Wing) (Cape Canaveral): http://www.patrick.af.mil/
45th Space Wing (Patrick AFB) Twitter: https://twitter.com/45thSpaceWing
Aerojet Rocketdyne: http://www.rocket.com/
Spaceflight 101 Atlas V-401 data page: http://www.spaceflight101.com/atlas-v-401.html