Aeronautics and Space Report of the President FY 1995 Activities

Space Communications

Space Network

The seventh Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) was launched successfully aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on July 13, 1995. Built by TRW, Inc., to replace the TDRS-B lost in the Challenger accident, this spacecraft successfully completed all functional and characterization tests in an interference-free orbital location and is to serve as the reserve spacecraft in the western location.

In White Sands, New Mexico, the Danzante ground terminal, formerly known as the second TDRS System ground terminal became fully operational on March 10, 1995. The Danzante assumed all user service and TDRS satellite control functions, while Cacique, the original terminal, began undergoing modernization. Cacique was scheduled to return to service in 1996, providing a dual terminal complex at White Sands. Dual terminals will eliminate the ground station as a single point of failure in space network operations, provide the capability to extend the useful life of partially failed spacecraft, and reduce life-cycle costs through operating efficiencies.

Portcom, a new portable, low-power, low-cost transmitter/receiver was developed in FY 1995. This instrument takes advantage of the high signal strength and global coverage of the TDRS and has the potential to expand communications applications to multiple dispersed geographic locations using the TDRS. Originally built for the Globe student communications project, the hand-held or camera-mounted device successfully transmitted pictures from Antarctica via the TDRS.

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Curator: Lillian Gipson
Last Updated: September 5, 1996
For more information contact Steve Garber, NASA History Office,