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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- A Great Blue Heron is silhouetted against the brilliance of the rocket exhaust as the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-I (TDRS-1) is launched from Launch Pad 36-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. TDRS-I replenishes the existing on-orbit fleet of six spacecraft. The TDRS System is the primary source of space-to-ground voice, data and telemetry for the Space Shuttle. It also provides communications with the International Space Station and scientific spacecraft in low-Earth orbit such as the Hubble Space Telescope. This new advanced series of satellites will extend the availability of TDRS communications services until about 2017. Liftoff occurred at 5:59 p.m. EST
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