Thursday, May 27, 2010

ULA Delta 4 Launches Advanced GPS Satellite

An advanced Global Positioning System satellite was carried into orbit tonight which will provide the United States military aviation and land vehicles with a greater signal accuracy.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV lifted-off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's launch complex 37 at 11:00:01 pm EDT, this evening, on a 105.28 degree flight azimuth.

It was the second Delta IV launch of the year, and the thirteenth Delta IV launch overall since 2002.

Fueled by a core engine and twin solid boosters, the Delta rocket sped away from her pad and into the cloudy dark skies over the space coast as it headed southeastward out over the Atlantic waters.

For some observers at Port Canaveral, they quickly lost sight after one minute of flight due to a cloud deck.

One hundred seconds into the flight, the spent twin solid fueled boosters separated from either side of the main stage as the liquid-fueled RS-68 engine continued to burn for a few more minutes.

The Global Positioning System 2F 1 will assist the U.S. military with both aviation and land based support giving them two times better signal accuracy than the GPS 2R series. Schriever AFB's 50th Space Wing in Colorado will take over control of the new satellite following space craft separation.

Spacecraft separation will occur in a few hours at a planned time of 2:33:03 am (0633 GMT).

The second stage seconds later will perform a brief burn to quickly have it fall away so that the two do not collide.

The new GPS will operate in an orbit 11,000 miles above earth, and will assist civil aviation with it's new L5 signals. L5 is replacing the old standard of L1 and L2 as it enhances range measurements. L5 will be the only standard used on future 2F and 3 GPS satellites.

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