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Launch Photos: NASA's TDRS-K Communications Satellite Blasts Off

Atlas 5 Rocket Streak and VAB: TDRS-K Satellite

NASA/Tony Gray

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket carrying NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K, TDRS-K, streaks past the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida after launching from Space Launch Complex 41 at 8:48 p.m. EST on Jan. 30, 2013.

ULA Atlas 5 Rocket Launches TDRS-K Satellite

Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket blasts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 8:48 p.m. EST on Jan. 30, 2013, with NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-K) payload. This was the first of 13 ULA launches scheduled for 2013, the 35th Atlas 5 mission, and the 67th ULA launch.

Atlas 5 Rocket Streak and Lighthouse: TDRS-K Satellite

NASA/Rick Wetherington

The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 401 rocket carrying NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K, TDRS-K, streaks past the lighthouse on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida after launching from Space Launch Complex 41 at 8:48 p.m. EST on Jan. 30, 2013, in this long-exposure view.

ULA Atlas 5 Rocket Launches TDRS-K Satellite

Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket blasts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 8:48 p.m. EST on Jan. 30, 2013, with NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-K) payload. This was the first of 13 ULA launches scheduled for 2013, the 35th Atlas 5 mission, and the 67th ULA launch.

Atlas 5 Rocket Streaks Into Space with TDRS-K Satellite

NASA/Glenn Benson

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 401 rocket streaks away from Space Launch Complex 41 into the night sky over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K, TDRS-K, to orbit. Launch was at 8:48 p.m. EST on Jan. 30, 2013, in this long-exposure image.

Atlas 5 Rocket Launches NASA's TDRS-K Satellite

NASA/George Roberts

Plumes of exhaust and smoke form around a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 401 rocket at 8:48 p.m. EST as it lifts off Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K, TDRS-K, to orbit on Jan. 30, 2013.

Atlas 5 Rocket Launches NASA's TDRS-K Satellite

NASA/Jim Grossmann

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket rises above the lightning masts on Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K, TDRS-K, to orbit on the night of Jan. 30, 2013.

Atlas 5 Rocket Launches NASA's TDRS-K Satellite

NASA/Scott Neener and Cory Huston

NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K, TDRS-K, lights up the night sky as it begins its journey to orbit atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket at 8:48 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Jan. 30, 2013.

NASA's TDRS-K Satellite Blasts Off

NASA TV

An Atlas 5 rocket carrying NASA's TDRS-K next-generation satellite launches from a pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 8:48 p.m. ET on Jan. 30, 2013.

NASA Launches TDRS-K Communications Satellite

NASA TV

An Atlas 5 rocket carrying NASA's TDRS-K next-generation satellite soars toward space from a pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 8:48 p.m. ET on Jan. 30, 2013.

NASA Launches TDRS-K Communications Satellite

NASA TV

An Atlas 5 rocket carrying NASA's TDRS-K next-generation satellite streaks spaceward from a pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 8:48 p.m. ET on Jan. 30, 2013.

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Space.com is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, Space.com is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.