The upcoming launch of the 10th Global Positioning System IIF series satellite (GPS IIF-10) is set for Wednesday with the Air Force expecting no impact from the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Falcon 9 launch failure last month (Defense Daily, June 29).
The Air Force and launch provider United Launch Alliance (ULA) plan to launch GPS IIF-10 on Wednesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The launch window opens at 11:36 a.m. EDT.
Air Force Deputy Commander of the 45th Operations Group of the 45th Space Wing Lt. Col. Tom Stemarie told reporters in a conference call Friday that following a thorough and rigorous analysis process in the SpaceX-led investigation “at this time we can say with confidence we’ve been able to exonerate all the range systems and be able to say that they were not a contributor to the mishap.”
The Air Force has declared the range operational and it will be able to support the launch, Stemarie said.
The Air Force does conduct crossover assessments that they look at with “any mishaps that take place so we can see if there are any component intersections or anything along that like that can be a problem for our launch and indeed that’s what we have done today,” Col. Alvin Burse, GPS IIF-10 mission director, said in the call.
The Air Force looks at the general components, conducts a cross analysis for any that are similar after a failure like SpaceX, “and make sure that we are in good shape on our side with vehicles.”
GPS IIF-10 is set to be placed in orbital plane C, slot three, replacing SVN-59, an older block IIR satellite. SVN-59, which was launched in March 2004, will be re-phased to take over for SVN-40, a block IIA satellite, which will be removed from operation, Col. Michael Rokow, chief of Global Positioning Systems Directorate’s Space Systems Division, said in the call.
“As we launch new satellites, we remove older satellites from the constellation, and that’s what we’re doing with this block IIA,” he said. The removal of older satellites allows for more frequencies and higher power to be used in the GPS system, Rokow said.
There are 12 total satellites in the GPS IIF series. GPS IIF-10 is set to be the second of three launches this year, with GPS IIF-11 planned for October 2015. The final GPS IIF series satellite is scheduled to be launched February 2016.
The Air Force noted it is celebrating the 20th anniversary of GPS achieving full operational capability of the constellation. It was achieved in April 1995 and officially announced for worldwide use July 1995.
ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Boeing [MA]. GPS IIF is developed by Boeing.