NASA launches communication satellite

Tracking and Data Relay Satellite will help NASA stay in touch with space station, Hubble telescope

Published On: Jan 30 2013 09:22:45 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 31 2013 06:13:29 AM EST
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -

NASA has launched a new communication satellite.

An unmanned Atlas rocket blasted off Wednesday night from Cape Canaveral. NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite was on board.

This is the 11th TDRS (T-driss) satellite to be launched by NASA. The space agency uses the orbiting network to communicate with the astronauts living on the International Space Station. The satellites also relay all the images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The first TDRS spacecraft was launched in 1983. The second was lost aboard space shuttle Challenger in 1986.

This newest third-generation TDRS carries the letter K designation. Once it begins working full time, it will become TDRS-11.

It costs between $350 million and $400 million.