Click the arrow to watch the launch video on YouTube. Video source: NASA.
E.T. couldn't use it to phone home, but NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) constellation does help humans in orbit to stay in touch with the ground.
The latest upgrade, called TDRS-L, launched January 23 from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 41 at 9:33 PM local time. Originally scheduled for 9:05 PM, the launch was delayed 28 minutes due to a telemetry problem.
According to NASA'd TDRS History page, the TDRS project began in 1973 and the first one was launched ten years later on STS-6 Challenger. The second TDRS was lost when Challenger was destroyed during launch on January 28, 1986.
The TDRS constellation consists of three satellites that triangulate communications in orbit, providing almost total coverage for anything below geosynchronous orbit (roughly 22,000 miles).
The TDRS-L launch is the second of three next-generation craft being launched to upgrade the constellation. TDRS-K launched in January 2013, and TDRS-M is scheduled for 2015.