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45th Space Wing Supports Successful NASA Launch

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2014) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-L) payload at 9:33 p.m. EST today from Space Launch Complex-41. This was the first of 15 ULA launches scheduled for 2014 and the 78th ULA launch for ULA in just over seven years. NASA established the TDRS project in 1973, with the first launch in 1983, to provide around-the-clock and around-the-Earth communications for the network that routes voice calls, telemetry streams and television signals from the International Space Station, as well as telemetry and science data from the Hubble Space Telescope and other orbiting spacecraft. (Photo by Ben Cooper, United Launch Alliance)

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-L) payload from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 9:33 p.m. EST Jan. 23, 2014. (Photo by Ben Cooper, United Launch Alliance)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla -- The U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing provided flawless Eastern Range support for NASA's successful launch of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-L mission aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41 here at 9:33 p.m. Jan. 23.

The rocket flew in the 401 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.

Airmen, Air Force civilians and contractors from throughout the 45th Space Wing provided vital support, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety, medical and public affairs. The wing also provided its vast network of radar, telemetry, and communications instrumentation to facilitate a safe launch on the Eastern Range.

The Atlas 5 rocket will carry the spacecraft on a two-hour flight to geosynchronous transfer orbit, the normal drop-off point for communications satellites. From there, TDRS-L will maneuver itself into a circular orbit and undergo months of testing before being declared operational.

"What an outstanding performance by an outstanding team," said Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, commander, 45th Space Wing, who also served as the Launch Decision Authority for the 45th Space Wing's second launch of 2014.

On Jan. 6, the 45th Space Wing Sharks supported a SpaceX launch of the Thaicom 6 communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 here.

The TDRS-L spacecraft is the second of three new satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for NASA by expanding the lifespan of the fleet, which consists of eight satellites in geosynchronous orbit. The spacecraft provide tracking, telemetry, command and high bandwidth data return services for numerous science and human exploration missions orbiting Earth.

These include NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. TDRS-L has a high-performance solar panel designed for more spacecraft power to meet the growing S-band communications requirements.