GPS IIF-10 Launches from Cape Canaveral

July 15, 2015  - By
After the first main engine cut-off, the GPS IIF-10 mission entered a three-hour coast phase. (Courtesy:  ULA)

After the first main engine cut-off, the GPS IIF-10 mission entered a three-hour coast phase. (Courtesy: ULA)

UPDATE (July 15, 4 p.m. ET): United Launch Alliance (ULA) officials have declared the launch mission a success. The Centaur upper stage completed its second burn and released the GPS IIF-10 satellite into the navigation network to complete today’s launch of the Atlas 5 rocket.

“Congratulations to the U.S Air Force and the entire mission team on today’s successful launch of the 10th GPS IIF satellite! In just a few days, on July 17, the Global Positioning System will celebrate the 20th anniversary of GPS achieving fully operational status,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “ULA is very proud to play a role in delivering these satellites to orbit, with Atlas and Delta rockets having launched all 58 operational GPS satellites.”

“Today’s successful launch is a testament to the outstanding teamwork of  government and industry partners’ commitment to mission success. The GPS IIF satellites are critical for GPS constellation global service for years to come,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander. “Thanks to the men and women of SMC, the 45th, 50th, 310th Space Wings, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, The Aerospace Corporation, the GPS IIF, and the Atlas V launch teams, we are sustaining and modernizing the world’s greatest space-based, precise positioning, navigation and timing service.”

The tenth GPS IIF satellite lifted off from the Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral, Fla., on schedule at 11:36 local time (15:36 UTC) on July 15,  at the start of a nineteen-minute launch window.

This is the second of three GPS constellation replenishment flights planned in 2015. The first launch, of GPS IIF-9 using a Delta IV rocket, occurred on March 25. A third launch, of GPS IIF-11 using an Atlas rocket, is scheduled for Sept. 22. The launch of GPS IIF-12 is scheduled for Jan. 26, 2016.

The Boeing-built GPS IIF-10 is one of the next-generation GPS satellites, incorporating various improvements to provide greater accuracy, increased signals, and enhanced performance for users. GPS IIF-10 was the 70th spacecraft to be launched as part of the GPS constellation and the tenth in the Block IIF series that began launching in May 2010.

GPS IIF-10 marks the 55th Atlas V launch since the vehicle’s inaugural launch in 2002 and the 27th flight of the 401 configuration. Every operational GPS mission has launched on a United Launch Alliance or heritage rocket. While the government has certified ULA competitor SpaceX for GPS III launches, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded June 29, two minutes after launch of an International Space Station resupply mission.

The Boeing-built GPS IIF satellites provide improved signals to support both the warfighter and the growing civilian needs of the global economy, the U.S. Air Force said in a statement. The GPS IIF satellites will provide improved accuracy through advanced atomic clocks, a longer design life than previous GPS satellites, and a new operational third civil signal (L5) that benefits commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications. It will also continue to deploy the modernized capabilities that began with the GPS IIR satellites, including a more robust military signal.

Launch Photos

Pre-Launch Photos