A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-11 satellite for the U.S. Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 (Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida) October 31 at 12:13 p.m. EDT. GPS IIF-11 is one of the next-generation GPS satellites that incorporate numerous improvements to provide greater accuracy, increased signals and enhanced performance for users.
«Congratulations to the entire team on today’s successful launch of the GPS IIF-11 satellite! Today’s launch was made possible by the exceptional performance and teamwork exhibited by the entire team, including the men and women of ULA, our many mission partners, and our U.S. Air Force customer», said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. «GPS is omnipresent in our everyday lives and the system provides a critical service to the all of those serving in our military around the world. All of the operational GPS satellites have been launched on Atlas and Delta rockets and the U.S. Air Force does an outstanding job of operating this essential system».
This mission was ULA’s 11th launch in 2015 and the 102nd successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006. This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter-diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.
GPS IIF-11 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 nautical miles/12,656 miles/20,372 km above the Earth’s surface. The GPS IIF series provides improved accuracy and enhanced performance for GPS users.
As a result of increased civil and commercial use as well as experience in military operations, the USAF has added the following capabilities and technologies to the GPS IIF series to sustain the space and control segments while improving mission performance:
- Two times greater predicted signal accuracy than heritage satellites;
- New L5 signals for more robust civil and commercial aviation;
- An on-orbit, reprogrammable processor, receiving software uploads for improved system operation;
- Military signal «M-code» and variable power for better resistance to jamming hostile meeting the needs of emerging doctrines of navigation warfare.
ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V OA-4 capsule for Orbital ATK scheduled for December 3 from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.
An Atlas V rocket launches GPS IIF-11, the penultimate GPS IIF satellite, for the United States Air Force