Launch schedules may yield for weather or for boats violating range safety boundaries, but not for holidays. Halloween is as good a time as any for a rocket launch. Today, an Atlas V rocket (our nation’s current space launch workhorse), made its third successful flight in less than a month. This impressive flight rate was made possible by United Launch Alliance, this being their 102nd successful flight in a row.
The Atlas V 401 configuration lifted off from LC-41 (Launch Complex 41) at 12:13 PM EDT. Hours later, its Centaur-5-SEC upper stage was boosted to medium Earth orbit where its payload was deployed. The GPS Block IIF spacecraft was placed in a nominal semi-synchronous orbit alongside the rest its
satellite constellation. This is the 11th vehicle in the constellation, and will be joined by the 12th and final satellite in early 2016. This new generation of GPS satellite requires a constellation of only 12, whereas the preceding design required 33 spacecraft. This and other improvements will make possible more accurate and less vulnerable GPS services for both military and civilian use.