Boeing Defense, Space & Security completed assembly of the last in a series of satellites for NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) "constellation." It’s the sixth satellite developed and built as part of system that will provide high-bandwidth communications capability to spacecraft in low-Earth orbit. Space programs supported by the constellation include the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Earth Observing System, and various NASA launch vehicles.
Boeing has been NASA’s sole supplier of tracking and data-relay satellites since 1995, and it has provided space communication services to NASA for over 40 years.
Designated TDRS-M, the new satellite was delivered to storage at Boeing’s Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, Calif., until it’s ready to be deployed -- which is expected next year. It would be launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, according to Boeing Defense.
Boeing delivered three satellites (TDRS-H, -I and –J) during 2000 to 2002. Two more satellites (TDRS-K and –L) were launched in 2013 and 2014.
TDRS-M was completed ahead of the contract schedule and within budget at the end of last year, according to Boeing.
“Boeing’s advanced TDRS satellites provide NASA with greater bandwidth at an affordable cost, helping them provide additional capacity for this critical communications relay network,” stated Dan Hart, vice president, Boeing Government Satellite Systems. “We are continuing to invest in technologies that could enable communications for future NASA near-Earth, moon, Mars and deep space missions.”