If you think the days of staring in amazement at NASA space launches are behind us, you’re wrong.
There are no space shuttles leaving the United States at the moment, but NASA is still launching three communication satellites into orbit. The first capsule, known as TDRS-K, launched on Wednesday at 8:48 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. TDRS stands for Tracking and Data Relay Satellite.
The next one, TDRS-L, is scheduled for launch in 2014. The manufacturing process for the final satellite in the trio, TDRS-M, will be completed in 2015.
NASA says these new satellites are designed with a higher performance solar panel, which should help improve power and return faster communications to the ground.
Take a look at the video above for an up-close view of the rumbling rocket, the take-off from base and a glowing stream of fire and smoke.