CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has launched the last of its longtime tracking and communication satellites.
The end of the era came with Friday morning’s liftoff of TDRS-M (T-driss-M), the 13th satellite that’s part of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite network.
An unmanned Atlas V rocket provided the lift from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
NASA has been launching TDRS satellites since 1983. The 22,300-mile-high constellation links ground controllers with the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and other low-orbiting craft.
This newest satellite cost $408 million. The price tag jumps to $540 million with the rocket.
The flight was delayed two weeks after a crane hit one of the satellite’s antennas last month. Satellite maker Boeing replaced the damaged antenna and took corrective action to prevent future accidents. Worker error was blamed.