An Atlas V rocket roared off a launch pad Friday morning from the Space Coast, delivering a NASA communications satellite to geosynchronous orbit.

  • Atlas V rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
  • Rocket carrying communications satellite for NASA
  • Launch had been pushed back after satellite was damaged

A thermal issue in the Centaur's upper stage delayed the rocket by several minutes.

But teams resolved the issue, and the United Launch Alliance rocket launched at 8:29 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41.

The rocket carried the TDRS-M (Tracking and Data Relay Satellite) spacecraft to orbit. It’s the third and final satellite in a series of communications satellites designed to relay information to and from NASA spacecraft and Earth.

“Every single image, every video, every downlink where a crew member on board (the International Space Station) talks to a school, goes right through the space station through the TDRS network,” said Neil Mallik, NASA’s deputy network director for human spaceflight. “It is TDRS that enables all of that, all of the images that we get from the Hubble Space Telescope all come through TDRS.”

Before the satellite even got off the ground, it experienced a bit of a hiccup. In mid-July, a crane bumped the satellite during final closeout activities, damaging the antenna.

It was fixed, but the bump delayed the launch by a few weeks.

This was the second launch of the week following Monday’s successful SpaceX mission delivering cargo to the ISS.

Another launch is set for next Friday — Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV satellite will make its Space Coast debut that evening.