A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the seventh GPS IIF satellite for the U.S. Air Force launched at 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, August 1 (03:23 UTC, August 2), from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.The Boeing-built satellite has sent the signals to controllers that confirm it is currently operating properly within the constellation.
Boeing and the Air Force will complete the full on-orbit checkout of the satellite in August. The GPS IIFs offer improved signal accuracy, better anti-jamming capability, longer design life and the new civilian L5 signal.
“We are providing our Air Force partner and GPS users with a steady supply of advanced GPS IIFs,” said Craig Cooning, president of Boeing Network & Space Systems. “Our robust launch tempo requires vigilance and attention to detail, and mission success is our top priority. We continue to partner with the Air Force and ULA to effectively execute the launch schedule.”
GPS IIF-7 is the seventh of 12 such satellites Boeing has built for the U.S. Air Force, and the third on-orbit delivery this year. GPS IIF-8, slated for launch during the fourth quarter, arrived at Cape Canaveral on July 16 to undergo final launch preparations. GPS IIF-7 will join a 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.
“Congratulations to the U.S. Air Force and all of our mission partners on the successful launch of the Atlas V carrying the GPS IIF-7 satellite,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “ULA launch vehicles have delivered all of the current generation of GPS satellites, which are providing ever-improving capabilities for users around the world.”
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 a single Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10A engine.
The EELV program was established by the United States 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.
According to Innovation editor Richard Langley, it appears that the satellite will be assigned PRN09, currently unused by the constellation.
The Initial NORAD 2-line element set indicates that the satellite has been launched into the F plane and is drifting towards its assigned orbital slot:
TBA – TO BE ASSIGNED
1 40105U 14045A 14213.89548347 .00000016 00000-0 00000+0 0 13
2 40105 054.9284 262.3364 0037666 293.4051 066.2734 01.96275654 05
Information from Notice Advisory to Navstar Users (NANU) 2014062
SUBJ: SVN68 (PRN09) LAUNCH JDAY 214
1. NANU TYPE: LAUNCH
NANU NUMBER: 2014062
NANU DTG: 020344Z AUG 2014
LAUNCH JDAY: 214
LAUNCH TIME ZULU: 0323
2. GPS SATELLITE SVN68 (PRN09) WAS LAUNCHED ON JDAY 214. A USABINIT NANU WILL BE SENT WHEN THE SATELLITE IS SET ACTIVE TO SERVICE.
3. POC: CIVILIAN – NAVCEN AT 703-313-5900, HTTP://WWW.NAVCEN.USCG.GOV
MILITARY – GPS OPERATIONS CENTER AT HTTPS://gps.afspc.af.mil/GPSOC, DSN 560-2541, COMM 719-567-2541, GPS_SUPPORT@SCHRIEVER.AF.MIL, HTTP://gps.afspc.af.mil/GPSOC/GPS
MILITARY ALTERNATE – JOINT SPACE OPERATIONS CENTER, DSN 276-3514. COMM 805-606-3514. JSPOCCOMBATOPS@VANDENBERG.AF.MIL