US: A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched the eighth GPS IIF-8 satellite for the US Air Force from Space Launch Complex-41. The event marks ULA’s 12th launch in 2014 and the 89th successful launch since the company was formed.
“ULA is honored to work with this world-class US government and contractor mission team, and we are very proud to have delivered the GPS IIF-8 satellite to orbit today on the 50th Atlas V mission. Achieving 50 Atlas missions with 100 percent mission success is a tribute to this team’s sustained focus on one mission at a time and dedication to reliably meeting our customer’s launch needs,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA Vice President, Atlas and Delta Programs. The mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter-diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by a single Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10A engine. According to the company’s press release, GPS IIF-8 is the eighth in a series of next generation GPS satellites and will join a worldwide timing and navigation system utilising 24 satellites in six different planes, with a minimum of four satellites per plane positioned in orbit approximately 11,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.
The EELV program was established by the United States Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.