Science and Technology News

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

9th-generation GPS satellite blasts off from 'The Cape'

45th Space Wing Public Affairs

3/25/2015 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The Air Force and the 45th Space Wing supported the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket that roared to life from Launch Complex 37, March 25, 2015, carrying the Air Force's ninth Block IIF-09 navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System at 2:36 p.m. EDT.

This launch is the fourth ULA launch this year and the 95th launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

GPS IIF-09 launched aboard a Delta IV Medium-plus (4,2) Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, using a single ULA common booster core powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68 main engine, along with two ATK GEM 60 solid rocket motors.

The upper stage was powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10B-2 engine with the
satellite encapsulated in a four-meter diameter composite payload fairing.

This launch marks the 29th Delta IV launch and the 57th operational GPS satellite to launch on a ULA or heritage launch vehicle. Delta IV has delivered numerous satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), as well as GPS satellites for the Air Force and weather satellites for NASA, according to a ULA media release.

Once again, the 45th Space Wing team of military personnel, government civilians, and contractors provided support to the ULA launch of the Air Force Space Command mission, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety, and public affairs.

Created by the Department of Defense to enhance military warfighting capability, GPS is available for use, free of charge, to anyone with a GPS receiver. U.S. and allied military forces use GPS devices in virtually every system to improve their capabilities and effectiveness while reducing risk to their forces and non-combatants. From finance to farming to tracking packages, use by the civilian community continues to grow rapidly and new commercial applications are continuously being developed.

The GPS IIF system brings next-generation performance to the constellation. The GPS IIF vehicle is critical to national security and sustaining GPS constellation availability for global civil, commercial and defense applications. Besides sustaining the GPS constellation, IIF features more capability and improved mission performance.

"In over 20 years since the initial operational capacity on Dec. 8, 1993, GPS has never failed to deliver on its global PNT commitment," said Brig. Gen. Bill Cooley, Global Positioning Directorate director, during a pre-launch media telecom, March 20.  "On April 27, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of achieving full operational capability for GPS."

The 45th Space Wing commander was both proud and pleased with the team she works with here on the Eastern Range.

"First, let me 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," said Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander, who also served as the Launch Decision Authority.

"What a treat -- and an honor -- it is to know that we have played such a significant part in something that we will celebrate two decades of helping people all around the world," Armagno said. "Every GPS satellite since the program's inception has been launched right here from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station safely and reliably by members of the 45th Space Wing."

"And that's because we continue to take a 'one launch at a time' mentality and focus on our number one priority - 100 percent Mission Success. I am so very proud to be part of Team Patrick-Cape."

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