launch Archives - Inside GNSS

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August 17, 2009

Air Force Launches Last GPS Block IIR-M Satellite

GPS IIR-21(M)

The U.S. Air Force successfully launched the last in the series of eight modernized GPS (IIR-M) satellites today (August 17) at 6:35 a.m. (EDT).

Using the Space Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, the satellite was carried into space aboard the last of the Air Force’s United Launch Alliance Delta II rockets.

GPS IIR-21(M) will join the constellation of 30 operational satellites on-orbit, assuming a position in plane E, slot 3 and replacing space vehicle number 40 (SVN40). The Air Force expects to set the satellite healthy for navigation users worldwide next month.

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By Inside GNSS
August 6, 2009

Upcoming Block IIR-(21)M Launch Wraps Up Generation of GPS Satellites

The scheduled August 17 launch of GPS satellite IIR-(21)M — also known by its space vehicle number SVN50 — will mark the end of a couple of eras: the final launch of the Lockheed Martin–built replenishment generation (Block IIR) of GPS satellites and the last Air Force launch using the Delta II rocket.

Notably, SVN50 will not have a payload connected to the J2 reserve auxiliary payload port that proved problematical with the L5 demonstration payload on the previous GPS satellite, SVN49, and possibly on other Block IIR/IIRMs.

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By Inside GNSS
June 16, 2009

ESA Signs Galileo IOV Launch, FOC Satellite Contracts

René Oosterlinck, ESA director of the Galileo Program and Navigation-related Activities (center), and Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO Arianespace (left), sign the Galileo In-Orbit Validation Launch Services Contract in the ESA Pavilion at the Paris Air Show, Le Bourget. Paul Verhoef, programme manager of EU Satellite Navigation Programs at the European Commission. ESA photo — S. Corvaja, 2009

On June 15, the European Space Agency (ESA) signed contracts for launch services on the Galileo in-orbit validation (IOV) satellites as well as two additional contracts for “long lead items” needed to build the full operational capability (FOC) Galileo constellation of satellites.

The first contract, with Arianespace, will provide launch services for the four IOV Galileo satellites that will be placed in orbit by the end of 2010. Two Soyuz rockets, each carrying two Galileo spacecraft, will launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

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By Inside GNSS
March 24, 2009

GPS Satellite with L5 Payload Launches Successfully

Block IIR-20(M) launch from Cape Canaveral. Photo by Carleton Bailie, United Launch Alliance.

GPS program managers and users — especially the U.S. civil aviation community — can breathe a sign of relief following the successful launch Tuesday (March 24) of a satellite carrying a demonstration payload of the new L5 signal.

Built by the Lockheed Martin Company, the modernized Block II replenishment spacecraft, GPS IIR-20(M), is moving toward plane B, slot 2 to replace space vehicle number (SVN) 30. If all goes well, U.S. Air Force controllers expect to set the satellite healthy for navigation users worldwide next month.

Among other signals and capabilities, the IIR-20(M) will be the first to transmit the new GPS civil signal centered on 1176.45MHz (±12 MHz) within the protected aeronautical radionavigation service (ARNS) band. This so-called L5 signal will provide a second safety-of-life signal that meets the technical requirements for enabling aircraft to make precision landings in high multipath environments.

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By Inside GNSS
October 1, 2008

GPS Satellite Launch Schedule on “Indefinite” Hold

After a series of rescheduled launch dates, U.S. Air Force (USAF) officials have placed the final two GPS Block IIR-M satellites on “indefinite” status, pending the replacement of ordnance timers used in the Delta II launcher.

In a response to inquiries from Inside GNSS, spokespersons for the GPS Wing at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, and Launch and Range Space Wing said that “based on the parts production and qualification schedule, we project the GPS IIR launches will occur in Spring and Summer 2009.”

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By Glen Gibbons
June 4, 2008

Faulty Booster Component May Delay IIR-M Launches; L5 Signal Ready to Go

GPS IIR satellite. Lockheed Martin photo.

Suspected faulty components in a Delta II rocket are delaying the launch of the final two modernized GPS Block IIR satellites, possibly preventing the early broadcast of an L5 civil signal that faces a 2009 deadline for being on the air.

According to Air Force officials at the GPS Master Control Station, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, and Patrick AFB near the Cape Canaveral launch site, the questionable component is the 40-second timer that triggers separation of the third stage booster from the GPS space vehicle. Affected are both the 20th Block IIR-M, which had been scheduled to launch this month with a civil L5 test signal enabled in the navigation payload, and GPS IIR-21.

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By Glen Gibbons
April 27, 2008

Galileo’s GIOVE-B Satellite Opens New Era of GNSS Signals

Close up view of the payload fairing of the Soyuz-Fregat launcher carrying ESA’s GIOVE-B satellite, on the launch pad in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, prior to the April 27, 2008, launch. ESA photo by S. Corvaja

A new generation of GNSS signals will become available soon as Europe’s second Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element satellite (GIOVE-B) reached orbit, following successful launch on Sunday (April 27) from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Riding a Soyuz/Fregat launcher, the 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) spacecraft lifted off at 12:16 a.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST). The Fregat upper stage performed a series of maneuvers to reach a circular orbit at an altitude of about 23,200 kilometers inclined at 56 degrees to the equator. The two solar panels that generate electricity to power the spacecraft deployed correctly and were fully operational by 5:28 CEST.

The European space Agency (ESA) operational schedule called for Galileo signals at three L-band frequencies to begin transmitting within seven to eight hours after reaching orbit, according to Giuseppe Viriglio, ESA’s director of telecommunications and navigation.

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By Glen Gibbons