NASA’s First TDRS Satellite To Be Decommissioned

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NASA’s first Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-1) has failed after 26 years of service and will be decommissioned Oct. 28.

Plans call for raising TDRS-1’s orbit to eliminate potential collision dangers with other communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit, NASA said in an Oct. 14 press release.

NASA said TDRS-1 suffered a failure of communications equipment that prevents the satellite from relaying science data and spacecraft telemetry to ground stations at the White Sands Complex in Las Cruces, N.M., and Guam.

Launched aboard the space shuttle in 1983, TDRS-1’s upper stage failed after deployment, forcing NASA engineers to nudge the satellite into its geosynchronous orbit over the course of several months using only the satellite’s onboard thrusters. NASA has built and launched nine more TDRS satellites since then, one of which was lost in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

The most recent TDRS launch was in 2002. The next TDRS launch is slated for 2012, when the first of two new TDRS satellites currently under development at Boeing Satellite Systems is expected to lift off.