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Tracking and Data Relay Satellite


Display Status:

This object is on display in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar room at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Tracking and Data Relay Satellite

Collection Item Summary:

During the first decades of the Space Age, NASA required a worldwide network of ground stations to communicate with satellites and human-operated spacecraft. The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) system, a constellation of three spacecraft placed into geosynchronous orbit beginning in 1983, was designed to replace this expensive, far-flung system. Positioned equidistant in orbit, they provide nearly continuous contact with spacecraft in low Earth orbit-an especially crucial capability for ensuring the safety of Space Shuttle crews. A TDRS transmits both voice and data communications. Under optimum conditions, it can transfer in a second the equivalent of a 20-volume encyclopedia.

This artifact is a high-fidelity model built by Design Models, Inc., under the direction of TRW, which manufactured the first several TDRS spacecraft. TRW donated the model in 1986.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Gift of TRW, Inc.


Wood, glass, capton, plastic


Overall (antennas and solar arrays deployed): 14 ft. tall x 43 ft. wide x 57 ft. deep, 1800 lb. (426.7 x 1310.6 x 1737.4cm, 816.5kg)

Country of Origin

United States of America


MODELS-Unmanned Spacecraft & Parts

Inventory Number