Saturday, December 22, 2007

Delta II with GPS payload successfully launches

A Delta II rocket carrying a Global Positioning System satellite successfully launches Dec. 21 from Space Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The satellite will join the constellation of on-orbit satellites providing global coverage and increased performance of the GPS services to users worldwide. (Courtesy photo/Carleton Bailie)

Blog Note:
Satellite/Payload Name: NAVSTAR 61 (USA 199)
Launch Date/Time: 12-20-2007 2004 UTC
Launch Site/Pad: Air Force Eastern Test Range, Cape Canaveral AFS, FL, LC17A
Launcher: Delta II:
International Designator: 2007-062A
NORAD SSC #: 32384

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (AFPN) -- Air Force space technicians successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Delta II booster Dec. 21 carrying the fifth modernized NAVSTAR Global Positioning System satellite into space. The NAVSTAR GPS was launched at 3:04 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 17A here.

The satellite will join the constellation of on-orbit satellites providing global coverage and increased performance of the GPS services to users worldwide. The modernized series delivers increased signal power to receivers on the ground, two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military, and a second civil signal to provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency.

"Today's launch moves us another step closer to modernizing the vital GPS constellation, which provides combat effects our warfighters depend on," said Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th Space Wing commander.

GPS is the world's foremost space-based positioning and navigation system. Endeavors such as mapping, aerial refueling, rendezvous operations, geodetic surveying and search and rescue operations all have benefited from GPS's accuracy.

The GPS constellation provides critical situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military and supports a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions -- from air traffic control to the Internet -- with precision location and timing information. Every satellite in the constellation was launched from here.

"The Global Positioning System has become an integral part of all of our lives -- for the members supporting the Global War on Terror and their families who support them," said Tech. Sgt. Will McCormick, a Delta II electrical engineering assistant with the 1st Space Launch Squadron. "It is truly an honor to play even a small part in providing this capability."

And from AGI Launch Notification service amd Spaceflight Now, "Final Delta launch of 2007 lofts new GPS satellite"

"A productive year for the Delta rocket program that launched spacecraft to observe Earth, dig up frozen water on Mars and explore uncharted worlds in the asteroid belt was capped with a successful ascent of a modernized GPS navigation satellite on Thursday afternoon from Cape Canaveral.

The year's finale began at 3:04 p.m. EST as the Delta 2 booster darted away from pad 17A carrying the newest craft for the Global Positioning System.

The three-stage launcher propelled the 4,500-pound satellite into a highly elliptical orbit reaching about 11,000 miles at the high point, 100 miles at the lowest and inclined 40 degrees to the equator. The Lockheed Martin-made satellite was released from the spent rocket 68 minutes after liftoff."

"A solid-propellant kick motor on the satellite itself will fire in a few days to circularize its orbit at 11,000 miles and increase the inclination to 55 degrees where the GPS constellation flies. The craft should be ready to enter service within a couple of weeks."

"Controllers will maneuver the $75 million craft into the Plane C, Slot 1 position of the constellation to take the place of GPS 2A-24. That satellite then moves into another role replacing the ailing GPS 2A-20 satellite, which was launched in May 1993 and has long outlived its seven-year design life."

"The GPS 2R-18 spacecraft is the fifth in a series of eight with enhanced features designed to rejuvenate the GPS constellation."