U.S. Air Force, United Launch Alliance launch Global Positioning System IIF-2 from Cape Canaveral

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., 18 July 2011. The U.S. Air Force has launched its Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-2 Space Vehicle Number (SVN) 63, which was carried aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Medium rocket from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The GPS IIF-2 is the second in a series of 12 GPS satellites that Boeing has on contract with the Air Force, and it marked the seventh ULA launch this year. 

"I am extremely proud of the tremendous efforts that hundreds of people on the launch team have expended for today's launch. I would like to thank United Launch Alliance, Boeing, my launch vehicle team from SMC's Launch and Range Systems Directorate and a host of others for their dedication to mission success," says GPS IIF-2 Mission Director Col. Bob Hodgkiss.

The satellite will become part of a GPS constellation of 30 operational satellites on-orbit, providing precise positioning, navigation, and timing services to users worldwide. SVN-63 will assume the plane D, slot 2A position and replace SVN-24, which is being retired after nearly 20 years of service. The new satellite is expected to be available for navigation users worldwide in August.

The GPS IIF satellites will lend to greater navigation accuracy by way of improvements in atomic clock technology, a more robust third civil signal (L5) for commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications, and a longer, 12-year design life, providing long-term service and reduced operating costs. GPS IIF will also continue to deploy a more robust military signal.  

"I'm extremely pleased with today's successful launch; the GPS system's overall navigational accuracy will improve as more GPS IIF space vehicles are put into service," says Col. Bernie Gruber, director of SMC's Global Positioning Systems Directorate.  "The improved accuracy, reliability, and security of the GPS system ensure that the Air Force will continue to meet its navigation and timing commitments to GPS users around the world."    

The mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ 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+ configuration and the 17th flight of the Delta IV family of launch vehicles.

ULA's next launch is the Atlas V Juno mission for NASA currently scheduled for August 5, 2011 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., Harlingen, Texas, and San Diego, Calif.  Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

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