This weekend a GPS IIF-2 satellite was launched into orbit via a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Delta IV rocket placed the navigation satellite into the Global Positioning System constellation for the Air Force. The powerful Delta 4 booster blasted away from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 37 for a middle-of-the-night ascent precisely timed to deliver a critical replacement satellite directly into the GPS constellation.
Today’s GPS fleet is comprised of 31 satellites. “GPS is a global utility providing highly accurate position, navigation and timing services at no cost to billions of people,” said Jon Goodney, the GPS 2F deputy program director at Boeing. “Originally developed for military use, it’s since been adopted as the foundation of modern communications. GPS saves lives and enhances quality of living. And adding this GPS 2F-2 ensures the constellation will remain robust.”
Continuing a prolific partnership that has benefited billions of users around the world, this weekend the Delta rocket family successfully launched its 50th satellite for the Global Positioning System. It was the type of rocket flight that could appear routine. But replenishing the navigation network is vital to the military forces, civilian consumers and the blossoming commercial marketplace that have come to depend on GPS every day.
The GPS 2F satellites provide enhanced military signals that have greater accuracy and are more resistant to signal jamming. They also have some civilian applications and a longer life expectancy than the previous generation of satellites.
The Delta IV had been scheduled to launch two days prior but slipped one day due to a technical issue with the satellite and a second day when technicians were prevented from rolling the Mobile Service Tower or MST back because of weather.
GPS satellites orbit about 11,000 nautical miles above the planet and emit continuous navigation signals that allow users to find their location in latitude, longitude and altitude and determine time. The constellation features six orbital planes with multiple satellites flying in each.
“Nearly every piece of military equipment uses GPS precision timing and navigation capabilities to perform its missions more safely and effectively,” said Col. Bernard Gruber, director of the Air Force’s GPS Directorate.
The next GPS satellite launch is tentatively scheduled for September 2012.