The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, known as TDRS-K, launched at 8:48 p.m. EST Wednesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and was successfully deployed into its geosynchronous transfer orbit, the space agency reported Thursday.
"TDRS-K bolsters our network of satellites that provides essential communications to support space exploration," said Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator for Space Communications and Navigation at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It will improve the overall health and longevity of our system."
Missions relying on current and planned NASA tracking and telemetry satellites include the International Space Station and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
"With this launch, NASA has begun the replenishment of our aging space network," TDRS project manager Jeffrey Gramling said. "This addition to our current fleet of seven will provide even greater capabilities to a network that has become key to enabling many of NASA's scientific discoveries."
The TDRS-K satellite will undergo a 30-month test phase before being placed into service, NASA said.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]