United Launch Alliance (ULA) has successfully launched the a Boeing GPS IIF satellite from Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida.
The ULA Delta IV rocket was launched at 8:10am local time in 4,2 configuration, with a 4m fairing and two solid rocket boosters, the ninth such version launched to date. The rocket performed according to expectations, says Boeing, joint owner of ULA and GPS satellite manufacturer.
Signal acquisition from the satellite is expected once it is reaches its planned orbit, around 11:30am local.
This latest satellite will replace GPSF-21, an aging GPS satellite launched in 1993.
The GPS IIF satellites are the first to broadcast on five frequencies, as opposed to the usual four. The fifth frequency, called L-5, is to be used for air traffic control and rescue. The L-5 signal is essentially unusable without at least one additional satellite, and coverage will not be universal until several more satellites are operational.
Three more satellites GPS IIFs are in storage, to be launched as deemed necessary by the US Air Force (USAF), which operates the GPS constellation. Boeing will build six more by mid-2013.
The next GPS launch is scheduled in the second financial quarter of 2013 aboard a ULA Atlas V.