The Network

  • Released Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:51PM
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Names like the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station frequently make headline news for their groundbreaking achievements. Such stardom, however, would be difficult without the crucial support of NASA’s lesser known Tracking and Data Relay Satellites, or TDRS. The eight satellites that currently compose the fleet provide continuous connectivity for sending navigation, data and voice transmissions from Earth to the space station, Hubble and a host of other spacecraft. Without them, communications with ground stations would be limited to just 15 percent of the time. Watch the video to learn more.

NASA launched the first of a series of TDRS satellites, similar to the one shown here, in 1983.

NASA launched the first of a series of TDRS satellites, similar to the one shown here, in 1983.

The International Space Station routes voice and video communications along with data through the TDRS fleet.

The International Space Station routes voice and video communications along with data through the TDRS fleet.

Two ground stations relay data between TDRS satellites and the various mission operations centers.

Two ground stations relay data between TDRS satellites and the various mission operations centers.



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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center