A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched a new GPS satellite into orbit.
The 15 May launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, used an Atlas V in the 401 configuration, with a 4m (13.1ft) payload fairing and an RD-180 main engine without assistance from solid rocket boosters. It marks the 38th launch for Atlas V, and the 19th for the 401 configuration, according to Flightglobal/Ascend's launch database.
The launch put the fourth Boeing GPS II-F satellite in medium Earth orbit. The GPS constellation, used for precision navigation in both military and civilian worlds, is constantly refreshed.
The arrival of the satellite in orbit "marks the first operational GPS mission launched on an Atlas V launch vehicle," says Jim Sponnick, ULA's vice president for mission operations. "Successfully and efficiently integrating and launching these satellites on both [Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle] launch systems provides operational flexibility and in the future, capabilities such as dual-launch will provide even greater flexibility and also enable lower launch costs for our customers."
Boeing is on contract for eight more GPS II-F satellites, five of which are in storage awaiting designated launch times. GPS satellites launch at regular intervals, steadily replacing on-orbit satellites as they reach the end of their design lives.