NASA Launches New Communications Satellite

NASA's group of communication satellites has just got bigger.

An unnamed rocket set off at around 9.50pm last night, carrying the latest third generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite.

NASA uses the satellites to support the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope.

The network is 22,300 miles high at various locations above the equator, and allows continuous two-way contact with the space station and its six inhabitants.

Badri Younes, NASA's deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigations said: "Not only are we getting global coverage 100 percent of the time, we are getting it in real time.

"No human spaceflight program can be supported at this data rate. And even our ability to respond real time to emergency would diminish drastically. So that's why the TDRS has been declared as a national asset."

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