Final satellite in GPS IIF constellation taps Orbital ATK motor, solar array, thermal, and antenna equipment

Feb. 11, 2016
DULLES, Va., 11 Feb. 2016. Orbital ATK Inc. (NYSE:OA) contributed integrated hardware to the launch of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket and GPS Block IIF satellite payload from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

DULLES, Va., 11 Feb. 2016. Orbital ATK Inc. (NYSE:OA) contributed integrated hardware to the launch of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket and GPS Block IIF satellite payload from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The satellite is the twelfth and final GPS IIF satellite in the constellation. The dozen Block IIF GPS satellites replace older, first-generation GPS satellites and provide improved accuracy, signal strength, and quality to America’s warfighters, allies, and civilian users worldwide. Boeing (NYSE: BA) designed and built the GPS IIF satellites for the U.S. Air Force.

“It is exciting to see another Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) launch in which Orbital ATK’s structures and components contributed to the combined success of both the launch vehicle and satellite,” says Steve Earl, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s Aerospace Structures Division.

For the ULA Atlas V rocket, Orbital ATK produced the 10-foot diameter composite heat shield, which provides higher performance with lower weight, and essential protection for the first stage of the launch vehicle from engine exhaust temperatures in excess of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The assembly was fabricated using advanced fiber placement manufacturing techniques at Orbital ATK's Iuka, Mississippi, facility. This marked the 60th ULA Atlas V launch using Orbital ATK-built composite structures.

This flight marked the 24th successful flight of the Orbital ATK retro motors. Eight of these solid motors provided thrust for separation of the spent first stage. The ULA Atlas V retrorocket is built at Orbital ATK's Elkton, Maryland, facility.

Final assembly of the 12th GPS IIF satellite at Boeing facility

Orbital ATK’s Space Components Division facility in Commerce, California manufactured the Reaction Control System (RCS) propellant tanks for the ULA Atlas V rocket.

For the GPS IIF-12 satellite, Orbital ATK provided a host of products and services, including:

  • Orbital ATK’s Goleta, California, facility designed and manufactured the satellite solar arrays and a deployment boom.
  • Orbital ATK’s San Diego, California, facility manufactured the composite solar array substrates and structural components.
  • Orbital ATK’s Commerce, California, facility had responsibility for the ullage tank assembly, including the blankets, heaters, thermistors and pressurant lines. This tank is a spherical vessel constructed of titanium.
  • Orbital ATK’s Beltsville, Maryland, facility provided heat pipes for the GPS IIF equipment and radiator panels.
  • Orbital ATK’s Rancho Bernardo, California, facility performed final assembly and RF (Radio Frequency) testing of the antenna suite for GPS IIF between 2003 and 2010.

The Block IIF series provides improved accuracy, enhanced internal atomic clocks, better anti-jam resistance, a civil signal for commercial aviation and a longer design life. The GPS IIF-12 satellite provides space-based system global location and time information in all weather conditions.

Orbital ATK, a provider of aerospace and defense technologies, designs, builds, and delivers space, defense, and aviation systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition; satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced aerospace structures. Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK employs approximately 12,000 people in 18 states across the U.S. and in several international locations.

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    About the Author

    Courtney E. Howard | Chief Editor, Intelligent Aerospace

    Courtney enjoys writing about all things high-tech in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Intelligent Aerospace and Military & Aerospace Electronics. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics and space geek. Connect with Courtney at [email protected], @coho on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and on Google+.

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