Atlas V rocket launches from Cape Canaveral

Satellite will aid International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope

Published On: Jan 23 2014 11:20:32 AM EST   Updated On: Jan 23 2014 10:02:00 PM EST
Atlas V rocket launch

NASA has launched an advanced, new communication satellite.

An unmanned rocket blasted off Thursday night from Cape Canaveral with the latest, third-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite.

NASA uses the TDRS (TEE'-driss) satellites to support the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope, among other craft.

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

This newest satellite is designated "L'' in the TDRS series. NASA will rename it TDRS-12 once it's checked out in orbit, by late spring.

The satellite costs about $350 million.

NASA launched its first TDRS in 1983 aboard a space shuttle.

Thursday's liftoff was delayed briefly by a last-minute data dropout with the rocket. Launch controllers worked around the problem. The rocket launched after 9:30 p.m. Thursday.