Saturday, July 16, 2011

GPS satellite in orbit, Launched after weather clears

After two launch scrubs earlier in the week, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket lifted off at 2:41 a.m. EDT Saturday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station orbiting an improved GPS satellite.

The pre-dawn launch came after evening showers passed through the Space Coast.

The two-stage rocket with two solid fuel boosters carried the GPS IIF-2, which is the second in a series of next generation GPS satellites that will join a worldwide timing and navigation system of 24 satellites in orbit approximately 11,000 miles above the Earth.

Millions of people worldwide depend on the GPS system for navigation.

The GPS IIF satellites will provide greater navigation accuracy to users through improvements in atomic clock technology and a stronger signal for commercial aviation and the military. GPS IIF will have a longer design life of 12 years and reduced operating costs.

"The GPS system’s overall navigational accuracy will improve as more GPS IIF space vehicles are put into service," said Col. Bernie Gruber, director of Space and Missile Command’s Global Positioning Systems.

It was the 50th successful GPS launch on a Delta rocket.

Photo by Michael Brown, FLORIDA TODAY

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