A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a GPS IIF-11 U.S. Air Force satellite launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, catapulting next-generation GPS satellites into operation at precisely 12:13 p.m. on Oct. 31.
The launch from Space Launch Complex-41 for the U.S. Air Force signals continuing enhancements to accuracy and performance for ULA.
"Congratulations to the entire team on today's successful launch of the GPS IIF-11 satellite,” Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president for Atlas and Delta Programs, said. “Today's launch was made possible by the exceptional performance and teamwork exhibited by the entire team, including the men and women of ULA, our many mission partners and our U.S. Air Force customer.”
The mission marks ULA's 11th launch in 2015 and the 102nd successful launch since the company formed in 2006. GPS IIF-11 will join the worldwide GPS timing and navigation system, utilizing 24 satellites in six different planes. Each plane is positioned with at least four satellites, orbiting the Earth at an altitude of approximately 11,000 nautical miles.
"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,” Sponnick said. “All of the operational GPS satellites have been launched on Atlas and Delta rockets, and the U.S. Air Force does an outstanding job of operating this essential system."
ULA has successfully sent over 100 satellites into orbit to assist troops, aid meteorologists, enable GPS navigation and explore the solar system. Its next scheduled Cape Canaveral launch is the Atlas V OA-4 capsule for Orbital ATK, scheduled for liftoff on Dec. 3.