Delta Launches GPS IIF-2
Launch marks 50th GPS launch
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket successfully orbited the 50th spacecraft in the the Air Force's Global Positioning System today following its launch from Cape Canaveral. With the GPS IIF-2 payload aboard, the Delta IV Medium launch vehicle lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 at 2:41 a.m. EDT and deployed the second satellite in the IIF series approximately three hours later.
"Congratulations to the entire team on the successful launch of the GPS IIF-2 satellite," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. "Today's one-at-a-time launch represents the 50th successful GPS launch on a Delta launch vehicle. We are proud to have served alongside the government and contractor teams over the last two decades in successfully launching GPS missions for the U.S. Air Force and providing important capabilities for our national defense and for millions of civilian and commercial users around the world."
The mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) configuration launch vehicle featuring an ULA single common booster core powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) RS-68 main engine and two Alliant Techsystems (ATK) strap-on solid rocket motors. The payload was encased by a composite payload fairing and powered by the four-meter diameter upper stage using the PWR RL10B-2 engine.
The GPS IIF-2 launch marked the eighth flight of the Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) configuration and the 17th flight of the Delta IV family of launch vehicles.
GPS IIF-2 is the second in a series of next generation GPS satellites and will join a worldwide timing and navigation system utilizing 24 satellites in six different planes, with a minimum of four satellites per plane positioned in orbit approximately 11,000 miles above the earths' surface. The GPS IIF series provides improved accuracy and enhanced performance for GPS users.
Every GPS satellite has been launched from Cape Canaveral AFS.
"The 45th Space Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center, GPS Wing, Boeing and United Launch Alliance team are proud to launch the second installment of the GPS Block IIF," said Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, 45th Space Wing commander. "This mission proves yet again our ability to reliably deliver national security space systems to orbit."
"This launch is an important step in the continued evolution of our GPS capability," said General William L. Shelton, AFSPC Commander. "With literally billions of civil, commercial and defense users around the globe, sustaining a vital GPS capability is extremely important to us."
The next scheduled launch from Cape Canaveral is an Atlas V, also manufactured by United Launch Alliance, carrying the Juno mission to explore the giant gas planet Jupiter. Launch of the NASA mission is currently scheduled for August 5, 2011 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.