March 25, 2015 – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket successfully launched the ninth Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellite for the U.S. Air Force at 12:36 p.m. MDT today from Space Launch Complex-37. This is ULA’s second successful launch in less than two weeks and the 95th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.
“Congratulations to the Air Force and all of our mission partners on today’s successful launch of GPS IIF-9! The ULA team is privileged to work with this world-class U.S. government and contractor mission team, and we are proud to contribute to the GPS capabilities that were delivered to orbit today,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “This entire team is focused on 100 percent mission success, one launch at a time, and also providing on-time launches to meet our customer’s mission needs.”
This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium-plus (4,2) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) using a single ULA common booster core powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68 main engine, along with two Orbital 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.
GPS IIF-9 is the ninth in a series of next generation GPS satellites and will join the GPS worldwide timing and navigation system utilizing 24 satellites in six different planes, with a minimum of four satellites per plane positioned in orbit approximately 11,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. The GPS IIF series provides improved accuracy and enhanced performance for GPS users.
Boeing has served as a prime contractor on GPS since the program’s inception, contributing multiple generations of GPS satellites and accruing more than 525 years of on-orbit operation.
“Boeing, ULA and the Air Force successfully launched four GPS IIFs last year, the highest operations tempo in over 20 years, and today’s mission marks the first of three launches planned in 2015,” said Dan Hart, vice president, Boeing Government Space Systems. “As they enter service, the IIFs are advancing and modernizing the GPS constellation by improving accuracy, signal strength and anti-jamming capability. We are also introducing the L-5 civilian ‘safety-of-life’ signal intended mainly for aviation and transportation.”
GPS IIF-9 reached orbit about three hours, 20 minutes after launching today and sent signals confirming its health. The satellite will undergo on-orbit testing and checkout before beginning full operation.
ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V AFSPC-5 mission for the United States Air Force, scheduled for May 6 from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.