NASA launches newest satellite
NASA's super-high-flying fleet of communication satellites just got bigger. An unmanned rocket blasted into a chilly, clear sky Thursday night in Cape Canaveral carrying the latest, third-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite. NASA uses the TDRS satellites to support the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope, among other craft. 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. The TDRS system is so vital it's considered a national asset. A modern-day human space program would be difficult if not impossible without the constant coverage provided by the TDRS satellites, said Badri Younes, NASA's deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation.