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Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Powers United Launch Alliance Atlas V Upper Stage, Placing NASA Communications Satellite Into Orbit

CANOGA PARK, Calif., Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and RD AMROSS launched into the New Year today by successfully propelling NASA's first, third-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-K) into orbit.  The mission launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.  The Atlas V is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 booster engine and a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10A-4-2 upper-stage engine.  Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company.  RD AMROSS LLC is a joint venture of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and NPO Energomash.

"The RL10 team is proud to start the New Year by helping NASA place a satellite into orbit that will provide even greater capabilities to a network that has been key to scientific discoveries here on Earth," said Christine Cooley, RL10 program manager, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. 

"The RD-180 engine lifted the rocket off the pad with ease, once again proving its ability to launch important payloads into space," said Bill Parsons, president and CEO of RD AMROSS.  "Congratulations to the entire RD-180 team for another job well done."

TDRS-K is the latest addition to NASA's constellation of Tracking and Data Relay Satellites.  It is designed to relay communications from the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and other satellites in low-Earth orbit. The entire TDRS network allows information to move back and forth between the orbiting spacecraft and ground controllers on Earth.

NASA started deployment of the TDRS network in 1983 with the maiden flight of Space Shuttle Challenger.  On its first mission, the satellite transmissions enabled more shuttle data to flow to the ground than the previous seven missions combined.  NASA continued adding first-generation TDRS spacecraft until 1995, and added three second-generation spacecraft from 2000 to 2002.  TDRS-K is the first satellite of the third generation, followed by TDRS-L planned in 2014 and TDRS-M scheduled in 2015.

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