United Launch Alliance (ULA) kicked off their 2016 manifest with the launch of Boeing’s GPS IIF-12 on February 5th from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This was the twelfth and final GPS Block IIF satellite to join the existing network of US Air Force Navstar Global Positioning Service satellites orbiting the earth. The Block IIF operational history stretches back to May 2010, when the first satellite was launched atop a ULA Delta IV Medium+(4,2) launch vehicle.
The Atlas V rocket carrying GPS IIF-12 left a long contrail as it shot through the upper atmosphere, seen in this photo from Melbourne, Florida taken by Michael Seeley
ULA has been the sole launch services provider for GPS satellites since its inception in 2006, and all prior GPS satellites have been launched by the two parent companies who share ownership of ULA: Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
We Report Space was on hand at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station last week to cover the launch of the Atlas V 401 rocket carrying GPS IIF-12 to orbit. ULA’s initial launch window was shifted from February 3rd to February 5th, to allow additional time in preparing the launch vehicle, particularly in inspection of the electrical connections ...