Posted at: 01/24/2014 10:08 AM
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lights up the night sky over Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida as it carries NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, or TDRS-L, to Earth orbit.
Photo: NASA Photo/Dan Casper
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA has launched an advanced, new communication satellite.
An unmanned rocket blasted off Thursday night from Cape Canaveral with the latest, third-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite.
NASA uses the TDRS satellites to support the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope, among other craft. The network is 22,300 miles high and allows continuous two-way contact with the space station and its six inhabitants.
This newest satellite is designated "L'' in the TDRS series. NASA will rename it TDRS-12 once it's checked out in orbit, by late spring.
The satellite costs about $350 million.
NASA launched its first TDRS in 1983 aboard a space shuttle.
Thursday's liftoff was delayed briefly by a last-minute data dropout with the rocket. Launch controllers worked around the problem.
Online: NASA TDRS site
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