The TDRS-L rocket blasted off at
One hour and 46 minutes later, the 3.45 tonne satellite designed to work for 15 years separated from the second stage of the rocket,
It will now spend the next 11 days adjusting into its definitive geostationary orbit.
The fleet of satellites has "revolutionized communications" for
The first TDRS satellite was launched in 1983.
Before then, communications to space were spotty and based on a small number of ground stations worldwide, leaving many gaps.
"Astronauts and Earth-orbiting scientific spacecraft would relay messages only when they passed over or near one of the ground stations," said
Now, the network of TDRS satellites combines to convey near-continuous signals, information and commands from ground controllers to the
The satellite blasted off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, destined for an orbit 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) above the Earth.
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