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Program: TDRS

Tracking and Data Relay Satellite

American telecommunication program operated by NASA. Some TDRS satallites have got a so called commercial payload, operated by Columbia Communications (C-band). Provides communications, tracking, telemetry, data acquisition and command services essential to Shuttle and low-Earth orbital spacecraft missions. The TDRS system can provide communications services to orbital spacecraft over 85 percent of each orbit for most satellites, and continuous service for some orbital positions.

The TDRS system was initiated following studies in the early 1970s which showed that a system of telecommunications satellites, operated from a single ground station, could meet the needs of NASA's mission better and more cost-effectively than the then existing network of tracking and communications ground stations located around the world.

In addition to the Shuttle, TDRS customers include EOS, ERBS, EUVE, GRO, HST, Landsat 7, Topex Poseidon, TRMM, UARS, XTE and other military missions.
Retired missions: Landsat 4, Landsat 5, SMM, COBE, SME

TDRS control center is in White Sands, New Mexico.

Commercial telecommunication services (C-band) are available via Columbia through 31 Dec 2001 (option to extend TDRS 5 & 6 through 2003)

In late 2007, TDRS K and L were ordered from Boeing for $695 million. Options for two more satellites could later be exerciced. Those 2 satellites will be based on the BS-702 platform, and launched in 2012 and 2013.
The last TDRS, M, was ordered in Nov 2011 for $289 million.

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