TDRS K spacecraft readied for launch

The first spacecraft in NASA's third generation of Tracking and Data Relay Satellites has been tested and fueled in preparation for its trek to orbit Jan. 29. Reporters and photographers got to see the craft Friday in the cleanroom facilities at the Astrotech complex in Titusville, Florida.

Technicians will mount the satellite atop the short pedestal-like adapter mechanism on Monday. The two halves of the rocket's nose cone, emblazoned with the hand-painted TDRS K and NASA logos, will encapsulate the satellite on Wednesday and Thursday in a two-day operation.

After being loaded aboard a transporter, the payload will be hauled across the river to Complex 41 next Saturday, Jan. 19 for hoisting into the Vertical Integration Facility and mating to the Atlas 5 rocket.

A thorough test of the combined systems between the Atlas and TDRS will follow, then technicians will finish closing out compartments and buttoning up the vehicle for flight.

The Launch Readiness Review is planned for 6:30 a.m. EST on Monday, Jan. 28 to give final approval for rollout of the rocket later in the morning, at 10 a.m., to Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 pad.

Liftoff remains scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 8:52 p.m. EST.

See our Mission Status Center for the latest news on the launch.

Photo credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now

Expedition 29 Patch
Space models