A Boeing [NYSE: BA] Delta II rocket is scheduled to launch a U.S. Air Force Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite at 5:17 a.m. EDT on Sunday, July 16, from Space Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The launch window is 26 minutes.
Every GPS satellite launched to date has been carried into its nearly 10,900 mile elliptical transfer orbit by Delta rockets. This will be the 29th GPS satellite lifted into orbit aboard a Delta launch vehicle (excluding the Block I satellites used during the GPS program’s research and development phase). Boeing has 16 additional launches manifested aboard Delta II rockets for the satellite-based GPS (Block IIR satellites).
Recognized as the world’s premier satellite navigation system, GPS currently operates via a constellation of 28 operational satellites, a ground control system, and thousands of terminals to help locate and guide military and civilian users in the air, at sea, on the ground and in space.
"Boeing has been involved in the Air Force’s GPS program since 1974 when the company won contracts to build developmental satellites and receiver sets," said Will Hampton, Boeing director of U.S. Air Force Delta II programs. "We are currently designing, developing and producing the third generation of GPS satellites, the Block IIF, and are proud to continue playing a significant role in this important effort.
"Mission success is our number-one priority, and we help to ensure it by focusing on sound, proven processes that have worked well for Delta II and our customers for years," Hampton said.
"Our efforts have been strengthened by implementing recommendations from the Broad Area Review panel brought together by President Clinton and from the Boeing Mission Assurance Review panel. Maintaining the integrity of Delta’s launch success record requires constant attention to detail and a commitment to continuous improvement, so these recommendations serve to reinforce our efforts to remain at the forefront of the space transportation evolution," he said.
Wanting to stay at the forefront of that evolution pushed Boeing to develop the Delta III to meet the needs of the commercial launch market for larger payloads. The company went even further by developing the Delta IV for the Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Program. Delta IV is offered as a family of launch vehicles – capable of launching payloads from 9,285 pounds to 28,950 pounds to geosynchronous transfer orbit, which meets the needs of government and commercial customers alike.
Beginning in 2005, a number of GPS IIF satellites will be launched on the Boeing Delta IV under the Air Force EELV program.
Boeing will host a live video feed of the GPS launch, beginning at 5 a.m. EDT on July 16 with bars and tone beginning at 4:45 a.m. Satellite coordinates are: Galaxy 3R at 95 degrees west; transponder 2. The uplink frequency is 5965 horizontal; downlink frequency is 3740 vertical
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