Successful GPS IIR-18(M) Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS
By JoAdail Stephenson
/ Published December 20, 2007
Los Angeles Air Force Base -- The U.S. Air Force successfully launched the fifth modernized Global Positioning System IIR-M satellite carried aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II Rocket at 3:04 p.m. EST on Dec. 20 from Space Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
The GPS IIR-18(M) launch is SMC's 56th consecutive launch success, and the seventh for the Launch and Range Systems Wing in 2007, a historic 25th anniversary year for Air Force Space Command.
"The Delta II and GPS team did great work throughout this launch campaign," said Col. James Planeaux, Mission Director for the launch and the Commander of the Delta Group. "I'm thrilled to see those long hours and dedication to the mission rewarded with a pinpoint orbit insertion for GPS IIR-18. This launch wraps up a high-tempo year of delivering space capability to our nation, including three Delta launches from Cape Canaveral in the last 64 days. It's a great year-end exclamation point for the Launch and Range Systems Wing, the United Launch Alliance, and all of our mission teammates."
The GPS satellite will join the constellation of 31 operational satellites on-orbit providing global coverage and increased overall performance of GPS services to users worldwide. The GPS IIR-M satellites offer a variety of enhanced features for GPS users such as two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption, anti-jamming capabilities and a second civil signal to provide dual frequency capability and improve resistance to interference.
"We have the most robust and capable global positioning system in the history of space, and we are focused on delivering world-class space-based positioning, navigation and timing capabilities for our military and civil communities. Thanks to the men and women of the 45th and 50th Space Wings, our industry partners and the Delta II and IIR launch teams, the success of today's launch was possible due to their dedication and hard work," said Col. David Madden, Commander, Space and Missile Systems Center's Global Positioning Systems Wing.
GPS IIR-18(M) will assume Plane C, Slot 1 position replacing space vehicle number (SVN) 36, which will in turn replace SVN 37. The satellite is expected to be set healthy for navigation users worldwide next month.
The Air Force is expected to launch the remaining three GPS IIR-M satellites in 2008. The next GPS IIR-M launch is anticipated for March 2008 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force's center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems including six wings and three groups responsible for GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control network, space based infrared systems, intercontinental ballistic missile systems and space situational awareness capabilities. SMC manages more than $60 billion in contracts, executes annual budgets of $10 billion and employs more than 6,800 people worldwide.
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