The US Air Force (USAF) and its mission partners have successfully launched the tenth Boeing-built global positioning system (GPS) IIF (GPS IIF-10) satellite from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Launched on-board a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle, the satellite reached orbit nearly three hours and 23 minutes later and sent its first signals.
US Space and Missile Systems Center commander lieutenant general Samuel Greaves said: "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. 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 modernising the world’s greatest space-based, precise positioning, navigation and timing service."
On-orbit testing and checkout on the GPS IIF-10 will be carried by the USAF and Boeing and the aircraft will become operational in about one month.
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.
The GPS IIF satellites offer 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.
Boeing is under contract for production of 12 GPS IIF satellites. In March, the USAF successfully launched the GPS IIF-9 satellite.Around three GPS IIF space vehicles are scheduled to be launched this year.
Image: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V blasts off from Cape Canaveral with the GPS IIF-10 mission for the US Air Force. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance.