Atlas V Boosts Final GPS IIF Satellite

The last GPS IIF satellite rides on an Atlas V lifting off from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 41. (Photo: United Launch Alliance, LLC)
The last GPS IIF satellite rides on an Atlas V lifting off from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 41. (Photo: United Launch Alliance, LLC)

Last week marked the end of an era (no, not Peyton Manning’s last football game) with the successful launch of the 12th and final GPS IIF satellite.

The Atlas V lifted off at 8:38 a.m. ET on Friday morning, Feb. 5, from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 41. It had to beat the odds to do so, as the weather forecast early in the countdown predicted only a 30-percent chance of acceptable conditions. Once it got going, however, the Atlas V was near-perfect again, placing the satellite within approximately 1 nautical mile of its intended orbit.

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) and government launch team must now execute a quick turnaround for the launch of the NROL-45 mission on a Delta IV, scheduled for this Wednesday, Feb. 10, at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Atlas V team worked over the weekend to complete their quick-look postflight data analysis and confirm that there were no performance issues on the Atlas rocket that could have implications for similar hardware on the Delta IV rocket.

Congratulations to the GPS IIF program and thanks to the extremely dedicated and hard-working Atlas launch team for a great launch and an exceptionally responsive postflight analysis.

This historic flight was the 61st Atlas V launch, the 104th consecutive successful ULA launch, and the 60th operational GPS satellite to launch on a ULA rocket.

—Randy Kendall