Sunday, November 1, 2015

ULA Successfully Launches GPS IIF-11 Satellite for U.S. Air Force

An Atlas V rocket launches GPS IIF-11, the penultimate GPS IIF satellite, for the United States Air Force. Credit: ULA

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-11 satellite for the U.S. Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Oct. 31 at 12:13 p.m. EDT. GPS IIF-11 is one of the next-generation GPS satellites that incorporate numerous improvements to provide greater accuracy, increased signals and enhanced performance for users.

“Congratulations to the entire team on today’s successful launch of the GPS IIF-11 satellite! Today’s launch was made possible by the exceptional performance and teamwork exhibited by the entire team, including the men and women of ULA, our many mission partners, and our U.S. Air Force customer,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “GPS is omnipresent in our everyday lives and the system provides a critical service to the all of those serving in our military around the world. All of the operational GPS satellites have been launched on Atlas and Delta rockets and the U.S. Air Force does an outstanding job of operating this essential system.”

This mission was ULA’s 11th launch in 2015 and the 102nd successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006. 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 the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine. 

"Congratulations to the U.S. Air Force, United Launch Alliance and everyone at Aerojet Rocketdyne who contributed to the successful launch of this important satellite," said Ron Felix, vice president and general manager of Space Systems at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "It's an honor to know our propulsion is playing a role in navigational assistance for U.S. military operations on land, at sea and in the air."

GPS IIF-11 will join the GPS 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 nautical miles above the Earth’s surface. The GPS IIF series provides improved accuracy and enhanced performance for GPS users. 

"The GPS IIF satellites play a key role in our modernization effort to provide new space-based capabilities for users around the globe and for decades to come," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force Program Officer for Space.  "The successful outcome of today's mission is due to the tremendous commitment of a world class team focused on mission success."

ULA's next launch is the Atlas V OA-4 capsule for Orbital ATK scheduled for Dec. 3 from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. 

The EELV program was established by the U.S. 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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