Delta II launches with GPS satellite

by Chris Bergin

A Boeing Delta II launch vehicle has launched the fifth in a series of eight modernized Global Positioning System (GPS)

Block IIR satellites into orbit on Monday, launching from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The vehicle launched at the opening of the window, 2:50pm EDT (7:50pm UK). A free video of the launch is available below (read more).

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‘We’re proud of our partnership with the U.S. Air Force in delivering unparalleled navigation capabilities to GPS users around the globe,’ said Don DeGryse, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of Navigation Systems.  

e look forward to executing a successful on-orbit checkout so that this modernized spacecraft can be quickly placed into operational service.’


The $75 million GPS IIR-15 (M) spacecraft will provide enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military user as well as a second civil signal. It will join the operational first modernized IIR satellite that was launched last year.

There are currently 12 other operational Block IIR satellites on-orbit within the overall 29-spacecraft constellation. The Space and Missile Systems Center is the technical center of excellence for researching, developing and acquiring military space systems.

‘We launched a new era of GPS services for our worldwide military and civil users last fall, and we are committed to continuing our incremental improvements in GPS performance,’ said Col. Allan Ballenger, Navstar GPS Joint Program Office System Program Director.

The full expanded capabilities added by the spacecraft include a modernized antenna panel that provides increased signal power, two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military, and a second civil signal that will provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency.

Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems is under contract to modernize eight IIR satellites for its customer, the Global Positioning Systems Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center. The first modernized IIR spacecraft declared operational last year and 12 other operational Block IIR satellites currently on-orbit within the overall 29-spacecraft constellation.

The US Air Force is also dedicating the mission to honor American POW (Prisoners of War) and MIA (Missing in Action), both past and present.

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