Alien Pod or Orbital Spacecraft Communications Relay Station?

Folded, NASA's TDRS-K spacecraft looks like a Zentradi-ish ship ready to launch. In reality, it's a vital space communications relay statin ready to be inserted in a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401, which will launch by the end of the month.

It's vital because it will provide with high bandwidth communications between NASA's spacecraft fleet and ground stations, as their current satellites are starting to show their age. According to Diana Calero, mission manager for NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center, "it has some higher bandwidth capabilities. We have some aging satellites, so we need new spacecraft to go in there and help carry more of the data."

From its geosynchronous orbit, TDRS-K will funnel data from NASA's Earth-orbiting science satellites, the Hubble and the International Space Station. [NASA]

Alien Pod or Orbital Spacecraft Communications Relay Station?

This is how TDRS-K will look deployed.