Micah Knight/Managing Editor
At 12:13 P.M. on Sat., Oct. 31, SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was shaken by 860,200 pounds of thrust from an Atlas V rocket. The United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) launch vehicle, in the 401 configuration (4-meter fairing, 0 solid rocket boosters, 1 centaur engine in the second stage) lifted a GPS Satellite to an orbit 11,000 miles above the surface of the Earth.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is comprised of 24 satellites in six different planes of orbit. The satellites constantly transmit data, allowing users with the proper equipment to calculate the precise time and their location or velocity, and are used in almost every conceivable application.
The satellite launched on Saturday was the eleventh in the block IIF series, the next generation of GPS Satellites that are more robust, have greater accuracy, and new signals.
The launch was delayed from Fri., Oct. 30 after a leak was found in the valve for the water suppresion system, but the valve was replaced and the vehicle launched one day after schedule.
The Atlas V rocket was assembled in only 18 days, beating a previous record assembly time of 21 days.
The launch was a total success, the GPS IIF-11 satellite is currently in its proper orbit, operating perfectly.
The next launch from Cape Canaveral is another Atlas V on Dec. 3, carrying Orbital ATK’s Cygnus capsule to the International Space Station in a Commercial Resupply mission.
The first launch of 2016 will be the final GPS IIF satellite on yet another Atlas V rocket on Feb. 3.