Following arrival at Port Canaveral, Fla., the United Launch Alliance Centaur upper stage that will boost the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, or TDRS-L, spacecraft into orbit is being towed off the barge, Delta Mariner. The first and second stages of the launch vehicle will then be transported to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center for checkout in preparation for launch.
TDRS-L is the second of three next-generation satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for the NASA Space Network. It is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 41 atop an Atlas V rocket in January 2014. The current Tracking and Data Relay Satellite system consists of eight in-orbit satellites distributed to provide near continuous information relay service to missions such as the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station. For more information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/content/tracking-and-data-relay-satellite-tdrs/ Photo credit: NASA/ Kim Shiflett