Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ULA Successfully Launches a GPS Satellite for the U.S. Air Force

An Atlas V rocket carrying the Air Force's GPS IIF-10 satellite lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Credit: ULA

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched the 10th Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellite for the U.S. Air Force at 11:36 a.m. EDT today from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This is ULA’s sixth launch in 2015 and the 97th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006. “Congratulations to the U.S Air Force and the entire mission team on today’s successful launch of the 10th GPS IIF satellite! In just a few days, on July 17, the Global Positioning System will celebrate the 20th anniversary of GPS achieving fully operational status,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “ULA is very proud to play a role in delivering these satellites to orbit, with Atlas and Delta rockets having launched all 58 operational GPS satellites.”

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter-diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by a single Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10-C engine. This was ULA’s 27th launch of the 401 configuration, and ULA’s 55th mission to launch on an Atlas V rocket.

Gen. John Hyten, commander, Air Force Space Command, who attended the launch with his wife, Laura, and Chief Master Sgt. Douglas McIntyre, AFSPC Command Chief, talked about the Airmen who make GPS possible.

"If you go to Schriever Air Force Base today and you walk into the 2nd Space Operations Squadron, in a little room you'll find seven Airmen," he said in a recent speech. "(Their) average age will be about 23 years old. Those Airmen are providing everything that is GPS for the entire world. Everything," he said.

ULA's next launch is the Delta IV WGS-7 mission for the U. S. Air Force, scheduled for July 22 from Space Launch Complex-37 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

GPS IIF-10 is one of the next-generation GPS satellites, incorporating various improvements to provide greater accuracy, increased signals, and enhanced performance for users. GPS IIF-10 is the 10th 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 Earth’s surface. GPS satellites serve and protect our warfighters by providing navigational assistance for U.S. military operations on land, at sea, and in the air. Civilian users around the world also use and depend on GPS for highly accurate time, location, and velocity information.

"And while I offer my heartiest congratulations to ULA, Boeing, Space and Missile Systems Center, the Launch Systems Directorate, the Global Positioning Systems Directorate, and all the mission partners who made this happen, let me just say the greatest professional experience of my life has been to lead the Airmen -- 'The Big A" -- who make up Team Patrick-Cape," said Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander, who served as the mission's Launch Decision Authority.

The EELV program was established by the United States Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.


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