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edit: Status 2018-Jan-01 inclination still about 7 degrees, location still not listed in Wikipedia.


This question got me thinking about the location of active TDRS satellites, and the newest addition TDRS-M which does not yet have a fixed GEO longitude listed in Wikipedia's List of TDRS satellites.

N2YO shows it over the pacific at about 150° W in an apparently close-to-geosynchronous orbit with an inclination of about 7 degrees, which is also reflected in the TLE shown in Celestrak.

Is this the final planned location, or will it continue to move to a target longitude? Is there a plan to reduce the inclination closer to zero?

enter image description here

TDRS 13                 
1 42915U 17047A   17275.30862482  .00000108  00000-0  00000+0 0  9993
2 42915   6.9726 332.4220 0005466 324.9709  34.9480  1.00272650   498

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ @MBM after reading the link in your comment I realized that you can probably easilly answer this question (hint: yes it is). $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 14 '18 at 2:53
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From the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) option on Celestrak's NORAD Two-Line Element Sets Current Data TLE page I've compiled current TLE inclinations for "on line" TDRS spacecraft:

Spacecraft     inc(degs)
TDRS 3          14.4405
TDRS 5          14.5306
TDRS 6          14.0861
TDRS 7          15.0545
TDRS 8           7.9573
TDRS 9           5.8274
TDRS 10          5.5187
TDRS 11          5.0141
TDRS 12          5.6613

While not included on that page, TDRS-13 can still be found in Celestrak:

TDRS 13          6.7494

Considering that:

  • TDRS-M has now been renamed TDRS 13, and...
  • ...according to this answer has officially entered into service.
  • its inclination is still close to 7 degrees (and TDRS are in general always inclined).
  • its longitude it's still near 150W.

It is very likely that yes, it is where it is supposed to be.

enter image description here

above: Screen shot from N2Y0.

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