50th GPS Satellite Launched

Image credit: Boeing
The 50th satellite launched for the U.S. Air Force Global Positioning System (GPS), GPS IIR-11, was delivered to space today by a Boeing [NYSE: BA] Delta II rocket.

The three-stage configuration Delta II launch vehicle lifted off from Space Launch Complex 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 12:53 p.m. EST.

GPS IIR-11 was successfully deployed to a transfer orbit following a 68-minute flight, where it will join the 24-satellite system.

?Today?s launch is a significant milestone for the Boeing Delta team,? said Will Trafton, vice president and general manager, Boeing Expendable Launch Systems. ?Our team?s commitment to mission assurance has played a critical role in the success of the GPS program and the services it provides to the U.S. military as well as civilian users around the world.?

Boeing Delta II rockets have launched all of the Block II GPS satellites making up the current operating constellation.

The successful deployment to space of GPS satellites aboard Delta II rockets has enabled the U.S. military to utilize GPS to assist aircraft, ships, land vehicles and ground personnel using handheld devices.

GPS also provides directional guidance for the freefall flight of the Boeing-built Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) smart weapon system, which has successfully been used in the war on terrorism.

GPS provides military and civilian users three-dimensional position location data in longitude, latitude and elevation as well as precise time and velocity.

The Air Force Space Command administers the GPS program, which is operated by the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.

The next mission for the Delta team is the launch of Gravity Probe B for NASA aboard a Delta II, scheduled for launch in April from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world?s largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $27 billion business. It provides systems solutions to its global military, government and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; the world?s largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world?s largest satellite manufacturer and a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA?s largest contractor; and a global leader in launch services.

Original Source: Boeing News Release