Thursday’s launch had a major nail-biting moment just minutes before launch. Telemetry communication from the spacecraft on top of its rocket had suddenly become spotty and the countdown was halted as per protocol. After initiating the appropriate discussions on what might be the problem the launch team determined that the problems started when communications switched from a hard line that was directly plugged into the rocket to radio communications. Once they switched back the problem disappeared so it was decided to stay on the hard line right up to the launch, and after everything was reset the rocket lifted off with a half-hour delay but still well within its launch window.
From there on out it was a textbook launch with all the excitement of a mission going well. The weather was exceptional – clear skies and dry air, which made for fabulous viewing conditions. Ground-based cameras were able to clearly film the launch vehicle until it went out of visual range several minutes after launch.
TDRS-L then entered a preliminary highly elliptical orbit, coasted for over an hour and the re-fired its upper stage to circularize its orbit and bring it into its geostationary parking spot.
The newest member of this 30 year-old club is being welcomed with open arms by the entire space-faring community. It’s nice to know we can keep those awesome Hubble images coming!
Check out the TDRS website at http://tdrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/
Beate Czogalla is the Professor of Theater Design in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Georgia College & State University. She has had a lifelong interest in space exploration and has been a Solar System Ambassador for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/ NASA for many years. She can be reached at email@example.com.