Visualization depicting TDRS satellites communicating with customer satellites. White lines represent periods of communication between satellites. Constant contact between TDRS satellites and ground stations is also displayed using grey lines. Note: The YouTube video above is an interactive 360 degree video. If you are viewing this video on your computer, click and drag in the window to change the camera view. If you are viewing this video on your phone or tablet, open the video in the YouTube video app and change the view by moving/rotating your device. This YouTube video is also compatible with Google Cardboard VR viewers.
The Tracking Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) fleet has provided spacecraft communications and tracking since the 1980’s. Designed to replace most ground stations and provide longer periods of coverage, TDRS spacecraft have become an indispensable component of both manned and unmanned Earth orbiting space missions.
The TDRS project is building the follow-on and replacement spacecraft necessary to maintain and expand NASA’s Space Network. The third satellite of the third generation, TDRS-M, is set to launch in August 2017. TDRS-M will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard an Atlas V rocket. This satellite will join a constellation of space-based communications satellites providing tracking, telemetry, command and high-bandwidth data return services.
A stereoscopic version of the same visualization:
For more information, see https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4201/