Dwayne Brown Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

October 8, 1991 (Phone: 202/453-8956) Jessie Katz Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. (Phone: 301/286-5566) Release: 91-164 EXPANDS


NASA's newest Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-5), launched aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on Aug. 2, 1991, is now operational, expanding the communications capability required by the increasing number of scientific spacecraft dependant upon the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS). TDRS-5 was moved from its on-orbit checkout location over the Equator at 150 degrees west longitude, to its operational position of 174 degrees west longitude over the Gilbert Islands, south of Hawaii. "This TDRS launch, deployment and activation, calibration and evaluation has gone more smoothly than any of the previous satellites launched into orbit," says Nicholas G. Chrissotimos, TDRS Manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. There are three other TDRSs in the orbital constellation. TDRS-5 replaced TDRS-3 which is being moved to 62 degrees west longitude, becoming an on-orbit emergency backup. TDRS-4 and TDRS-1 remain at 41 and 171 degrees west, respectively. The TDRSS is required by Earth-orbiting spacecraft such as the Space Shuttle, Hubble Space Telescope, Cosmic Background Explorer, the Compton Observatory and the recently launched Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. The TDRSs relay command signals and data between the scientific spacecraft and the White Sands Ground Terminal, N.M. - more - 2 The TDRSS has relayed more than two million minutes of data to the ground. Since late 1983, every Shuttle mission has required the TDRSS capabilities. The constellation is currently

accomplishing 400 to 500 tracking events per week with better than 99 percent proficiency. The 2-1/2 ton satellites have seven antennas and two solar arrays each -- that from tip-to-tip are taller than a 5-story building. A single satellite can handle more than 300 million bits of information per second per channel-- the equivalent of all the data in a 24-volume encyclopedia-- in less than 6 seconds. Studies in the 1970s showed that a system of telecommunication satellites, whose signals were relayed to a single ground station, could better meet the requirements of the Space Shuttle and Earth orbiting satellites than a world-wide network of more than 20 ground stations. With the TDRSS, controllers can communicate with satellites during 85 to 100 percent of an orbit, depending on the user satellite's orbital attitude. Prior to the TDRSS, communications with the Shuttle and other scientific spacecraft were limited to 15 percent of each orbit. NASA's Office of Space Communications, Washington, D.C., is responsible for overall program management of the TDRSS. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the operation of the TDRSS through GTE , White Sands, N.M. TRW Space and Technology Group, Redondo Beach, Calif., is the prime spacecraft contractor. -end-