Second GPS III satellite tops rocket at launchpad

August 13, 2019  - By
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The second GPS III satellite — nicknamed Magellan — is now at the launchpad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in preparation for liftoff on Aug. 22.

United Launch Alliance tweeted out an image of the encapsulated satellite on its way to the rocket.

The Lockheed Martin-built satellite was originally scheduled for launch on July 25, but the launch was pushed to Aug. 22 because of “an anomaly during component testing at a supplier that created a cross-over concern. Upon further evaluation, additional time is needed to replace and retest the component on the launch vehicle,” ULA said.


Launch Updates

The launch window on Aug. 22 will open at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 UTC) and extend to 9:27 a.m. EDT (1327 UTC), a 27-minute duration. ULA’s live countdown blog begins at 11:45 p.m. EDT (0345 UTC) on Aug. 21. The launch webcast starts at 8:40 a.m. EDT (1240 UTC).

Those interested can dial the ULA launch hotline at 1-877-852-4321 or join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch, twitter.com/ulalaunch and instagram.com/ulalaunch; hashtags #DeltaIV #GPSIIISV02.


GPS III SV02 will be the 29th and final flight of the Delta IV Medium rocket, the 73rd GPS launch by a ULA or heritage vehicle and marks ULA’s 135th mission.

GPS III SV02 is named Magellan in honor of the Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition to circumnavigate the Earth.

The satellite, encapsulated in the 4-meter-diameter composite payload fairing, was moved overnight last week from its processing facility to the seaside launchpad at a top speed never exceeding 5 mph.

The satellite was hauled by a motorized KAMAG Elevating Platform Transporter (EPT) that provided hydraulic leveling and precision positioning capabilities along the route. The EPT also towed a Portable Environmental Control System (PECS) trailer to supply conditioned air to the payload fairing during the trip.

Once parked in the hoistway on the backside of the Mobile Service Tower (MST), technicians used the crane system in the gantry the next morning to carefully lift the satellite onto the Delta IV rocket’s second stage to complete a successful vertical integration of the launch vehicle and payload. The fully assembled rocket now stands 207 feet tall.

A tip-to-tail electrical test of the combined payload and launch vehicle will occur next, an operation known as the Integrated Systems Test (IST). Once that is completed, the comprehensive process to verify flight readiness will begin in parallel to final vehicle closeouts for the launch targeted for Aug. 22 at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 UTC).

ULA rockets have successfully launched 70 GPS satellites since 1978.

ULA technicians transport the GPS III satellite to the Delta IV launchpad.( Photo: United Launch Alliance)

ULA technicians transport the GPS III satellite to the Delta IV launchpad. (Photo: United Launch Alliance)

The Delta IV rocket leaves the the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) aboard a 36-wheel, diesel-powered transporter on May 28 and traveled to Space Launch Complex-37. The trip took 40 minutes. (Photo: ULA)

The Delta IV rocket leaves the the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) aboard a 36-wheel, diesel-powered transporter on May 28 and traveled to Space Launch Complex-37. The trip took 40 minutes. (Photo: ULA)

 

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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