Monday, August 17, 2009

Milestone: Final US Air Force Delta II Rocket Launched

A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket blasts off with the Air Force's Global Positioning System IIR-21 satellite from Space Launch Complex-17A Aug. 17 at 6:35 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). This was the 48th successful and last in a series of GPS launches on a Delta II rocket, ending an era that began in February 1989. During that time, the Delta II/GPS tandem boasted a 98 percent mission success rate. (United Launch Alliance photo by Carleton Bailie.)

News in Balance:

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Aug. 17, 2009 -- Air Force personnel successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Delta II booster carrying the 21st modernized NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite into space Aug. 17. The NAVSTAR GPS was launched at 6:35 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time) from Space Launch Complex 17A here.

"With this successful mission the 45th Space Wing is accomplishing another major milestone in our national quest to improve and maintain our space capabilities," said Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr., 45th SW commander. "The GPS constellation has tremendous national security and economic importance and our Air Force team makes it happen. On its last Air Force mission, the Delta II once again lived up to its reputation as one of the most reliable boosters in our fleet."

The satellite will join the constellation of on-orbit satellites providing global coverage and increased performance of the GPS services to commercial and military users worldwide.

GPS is the world's foremost space-based positioning and navigation system. Endeavors such as mapping, aerial refueling, rendezvous operations, geodetic surveying and search and rescue operations have all benefited from GPS's accuracy.

The GPS constellation provides critical situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military and supports a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions -- from air traffic control to the Internet -- with precision location and timing information. Every satellite in the constellation was launched from here.

"We have a tremendous launch team here; launching systems such as GPS is one of the many ways space operators and the 45th SW specifically contribute to ongoing combat operations overseas," said Lt. Col. Erik Bowman, 45th Launch Support Squadron and 1st Space Launch Squadron commander. "This was the third Delta II and the second GPS satellite we've launched this year. Moreover, this launch marks the end of an era; we look at this milestone not with sadness, but with an immense sense of pride at all that the GPS and the Delta II teams have accomplished."

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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