NASA Television to Air Launch of Next Communications Satellite

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  August 15, 2017 
NASA Television to Air Launch of Next Communications Satellite
Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M
Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M is the latest spacecraft destined for the agency's constellation of communications satellites that allows nearly continuous contact with orbiting spacecraft ranging from the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope to the array of scientific observatories.
Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA is targeting 8:03 a.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 18, for the launch of its next Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) mission atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch, and related activities that begin Thursday, Aug. 17, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

TDRS-M, built by Boeing, will provide NASA’s Space Network the ability to support critical space communication into the mid-2020s, ensuring scientists, engineers and control room staff can readily access data for missions like the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.

Media badges will be issued at the Press Accreditation Office located on State Road 3, Merritt Island. For more information about media accreditation, send inquiries to

Please Note that RSVPs will be required for the following events:

-L-1 Media Tour

-L-1 Remote Camera Setup and Pad Photo Opportunity

-Launch (NASA Causeway and VAB)

When you RSVP, please indicate in the subject line your name, affiliation and specific area(s) related to your RSVP. RSVPs must be sent to no later than 9 a.m., Aug. 16

L-2 Day (Wednesday, Aug. 16)

Press Site Hours of Operation: 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Badging Hours of Operation: 6:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Atlas V Rollout (8 a.m.)

On Wednesday, Aug. 16, media may observe rollout of the Atlas V rocket from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad. Media should meet in the Kennedy Press Site parking lot at 8 a.m. for transportation to the viewing location near Space Launch Complex 41.

Media Tour (10:30 a.m.)

Launch Equipment Test Facility

The facility tests all the launch umbilicals for the mobile launcher of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. This site is a versatile test and development area that supports the entire spectrum of operational programs. It was upgraded and refurbished to support SLS and is used to test a wide variety of large-scale hardware and ground support equipment components. Equipment at the facility can recreate liftoff and operational conditions to test component performance, and can supply cryogenics, hydraulics, electrical and other commodities to enable "test-as-you-fly."

L-1 Day (Thursday, Aug. 17)

Press Site Hours of Operation: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Badging Hours of Operation: 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Prelaunch News Conference on NASA TV (9 a.m.)

A prelaunch news conference will be held at Kennedy’s Press Site TV Auditorium at 9 a.m. and air live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

Press conference participants include:

  • Tim Dunn, launch director at NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida
  • Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator for Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Dave Littmann, project manager for TDRS-M at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
  • James Wilson III, Boeing program manager for NASA/Civil Space Programs
  • Scott Messer, ULA program manager for NASA missions
  • Clay Flinn, launch weather officer with the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral

Media may participate with questions via a phone bridge by calling the newsroom at Kennedy at 321-867-2468 no later than 15 minutes before the briefing begins. Media also can post questions during the briefings via Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA.

Sonic Booms in Atmospheric Turbulence Flight Series (SonicBAT) Media Briefing (11 a.m.)

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is partnering with NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia; and Space Florida for an aeronautics research flight series expected to produce some sonic booms over Kennedy through late August. Media will hear from representatives of NASA, Space Florida and the Canaveral National Seashore concerning the upcoming supersonic flight series. The flight series is an agency aeronautical research effort to quiet the sound of sonic booms. The press conference will not be carried live on NASA Television; however, media unable to attend in person may participate with questions via a phone bridge by calling the newsroom at Kennedy at 321-867-2468 no later than 15 minutes prior to the briefing.

Media Tour (12:45 p.m.)

Kennedy Uplink Station/Launch Communications System Briefing 

The Kennedy Uplink Station (KUS) antenna is part of a new S-band ground tracking system that will provide crucial launch communications capabilities to SLS and Orion in their early launch stages. Part of the larger Launch Communications Stations, the project is jointly funded by the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) program and the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program. With this new antenna, SLS will be able to transmit at high data rates, as well as provide an S-band uplink capability to communicate with astronauts aboard Orion.

Ka-Band Objects Observation and Monitoring (KaBOOM) Briefing

NASA has embarked on a path to implement a high power, higher resolution radar system to track Near Earth Objects or NEOs such as asteroids and comets 100,000 times more accurately than optical telescopes as part of a system to defend the Earth from major impacts. The system will determine the size, shape, spin rate and surface properties of these NEOs to determine which are suitable for potential visits by astronaut crews. KaBOOM also will track orbital debris to ensure crew and spacecraft safety

Remote Camera Setup and Pad Photo Opportunity

On Thursday, Aug. 17, photographers will be transported to Space Launch Complex 41 to set up remote sound-activated cameras at the Atlas V launch pad. Media should meet in the Kennedy Press Site parking lot at 2 p.m.

L-0 Day (Friday, Aug. 18)

Press Site Hours of Operation: 5:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Badging Hours of Operation: 5:30 a.m. – 7 a.m.

Launch Viewing

News media wanting to view the launch from either the NASA Causeway or the Vehicle Assembly Building roof (space is limited) need to arrive to the Press Site by 6 a.m. Media also may view the launch from the Press Site.

NASA TV Launch Coverage

NASA TV live coverage will begin at 7:30 a.m. Coverage will conclude after spacecraft separation. There is no planned post-launch news conference. A post-launch news release will be issued as soon as the state-of-health of the spacecraft can be verified. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit:

Audio only of the news conferences and launch coverage will be carried on the NASA "V" circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135. On launch day, "mission audio," the launch conductor’s countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135. Launch coverage also will be available on local amateur VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz heard within Brevard County on the Space Coast.

NASA Web Prelaunch and Launch Coverage

Prelaunch and launch day coverage of the TDRS-M flight will be available on Coverage will include live streaming and blog updates beginning at 7:30 a.m. as the countdown milestones occur. For questions about countdown coverage, contact the newsroom at 321-867-2468. You can follow countdown coverage on our launch blog at:    

Learn more about the TDRS-M mission by visiting:

Join the conversation and follow the TDRS-M mission on social media by using Twitter and Facebook at:



Press Contacts

Tori McLendon
Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Cheryl Warner
Headquarters, Washington


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