Delta IV Medium Sends GPS Payload to Orbit

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Medium thunders its GPS satellite to orbit, Saturday July 16, 2010 at 2:41 a.m. EDT. Photo Credit: Alan Walters/

CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. – United Launch Alliance launched a Delta IV Medium 4. 2 rocket with a Global Positioning System satellite early Saturday morning at 2:41 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 37B. The GPS IIF-2 satellite is set to upgrade the capabilities of the GPS constellation for both the military and civilian purposes. 

The launch had been delayed two days, one day for a technical issue and a second when weather prevented the Mobile Service Structure or MST from being moved back. On this morning however there were no technical issues and the weather had provided mostly-clear, moonlit skies to send the launch vehicle on its way. 

This version of the Delta IV has two solid rocket boosters, these are necessary to allow the satellite to reach the proper orbit. The satellite was provided by the prime contractor, Boeing. This is the second of twelve planned launches of these satellites. 

“This is an exciting time for ULA, we are happy to have launched our 52nd mission,” said United Launch Alliance Spokesman Chris Chavez. “We’re happy to support the U.S. Air Force along with our customer and partner Boeing – it was a great launch and a great morning.” 

The first GPS IIF satellite was launched last year. It was produced utilizing what is known as the pulse-line production method.  This method is somewhat similar to how airplanes are developed. The process is named because satellites are moved from one work station to the next in a steady rhythm – similar to a pulse.

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