ULA launches US Air Force’s GPS IIF-11 satellite


GPS IIF-11

United Launch Alliance (ULA) has successfully launched the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-11 satellite for the US Air Force (USAF) from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, the GPS IIF-11 is aimed to provide greater accuracy, increased signals and enhanced performance for users.

ULA Atlas and Delta Programs vice-president Jim Sponnick said: "GPS is omnipresent in our everyday lives and the system provides a critical service to 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 US Air Force does an outstanding job of operating this essential system."

The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, while the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine, the company stated.

"All of the operational GPS satellites have been launched on Atlas and Delta rockets and the US Air Force does an outstanding job of operating this essential system."

The latest satellite will now join the GPS worldwide timing and navigation system that uses 24 satellites in six different planes, with a minimum of four satellites per plane positioned in orbit approximately 11,000nm above the Earth's surface.

Capable of providing jam-resistant military signals in hostile environments, the GPS IIF satellites are an interim class of next-generation satellites designed to replace the GPS Block IIA satellites, which were launched between 1990 and 1997.

It offers greater navigational accuracy through improvements in atomic clock technology, deliver a second civil signal (L2C) for dual-frequency equipment, and a new third civil signal (L5) to support commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications.

Currently, ten GPS IIF satellites are on-orbit and meeting all mission requirements.


Image: The USAF's GPS IIF-11 satellite launches from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance, LLC.