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NASA Launching Its Newest Communication Satellite

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File photo of an unmanned rocket. (Photo by BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of an unmanned rocket. (Photo by BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images)

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s super-high-flying fleet of communication satellites is about to grow.

An unmanned rocket is set to blast off Thursday night from Cape Canaveral with the latest, third-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite.

NASA uses the TDRS (TEE’-driss) satellites to support the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope, among other craft. The network is 22,300 miles high and allows continuous two-way contact with the space station and its six inhabitants.

This newest satellite is designated “L” in the TDRS series. NASA will rename it TDRS-12 once it’s checked out in orbit, by late spring. It cost about $350 million.

NASA launched its first TDRS in 1983 aboard a space shuttle.

Launch time is scheduled for 9:05 p.m.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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