Science and Technology News

Thursday, May 16, 2013

45th Space Wing launches first Atlas-GPS pairing in 28 years

Release Number: 020513

5/16/2013 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing successfully launched the first Atlas rocket carrying a GPS satellite since 1985 at 5:38 p.m. May 15 from Space Complex 41.

The United Launch Alliance-built Atlas V rocket carried into orbit the 64th GPS satellite, an enhancement to the orbiting constellation.

Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander, 45th Space Wing, praised the combined team of military, government civilians and contractors on the outstanding results.

"I am proud of the hard work of the 45th and 50th Space Wings, the Space and Missile Systems Center, United Launch Alliance, Boeing, our industry partners and the Atlas V and GPS IIF launch teams," said Brig. Gen. Cotton. "Once again, our entire team worked hand-in-hand to make this another successful launch for the Air Force and our nation."

The GPS IIF-4 spacecraft ascended into a constellation of satellites circling 11,000 nautical miles above Earth. It provides precision navigation and timing to U.S. military forces and civilian users worldwide.

The new capabilities of the IIF satellites will provide greater navigational accuracy through improvements in atomic clock technology; a more robust signal for commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications, known as the new third civil signal (L5); and a 12-year design life providing long-term service. These upgrades improve anti-jam capabilities for the warfighter and improve security for military and civil users around the world.

"The Air Force is working hard to advance the GPS network for improved accuracy across the board for things like commercial aviation signals, anti-jammers and a longer shelf life as we evolve the system over time," said Lt. Col. Paul Konyha, commander, 5th Launch Support Squadron.

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