A Boeing Delta 2 rocket has successfully launched a new US Air Force Global Positioning Satellite into orbit from Florida.
The rocket showed no ill effects from having stood on its launch pad in the paths of hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, which both hit Florida in September. The hurricanes caused the first in several launch delays for the mission. Technicians spent weeks making sure no flying debris had damaged the rocket inside its cocoon-like mobile gantry.
The $45 million satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, brings the current number of GPS satellites in the US constellation to 30, the Air Force said. It will replace an aging satellite that has been in geosynchronous orbit since 1991.
Boeing said the flight of the three-stage Delta, which roared off the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 12:39am (local time) was flawless.
“Following a 26-minute flight to space, the launch vehicle successfully deployed the GPS satellite. Today’s launch marks the 61st consecutive successful launch aboard the Delta 2,” said Boeing spokesman Robert Villanueva.
The next launch for the Delta team is a NASA science mission scheduled for November 17.