Alabama-made ULA rocket powers another GPS satellite into orbit
Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA) conducted its 135th mission Thursday morning when it powered yet another Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite into its targeted orbit.
The GPS III Magellan, built by Lockheed Martin, will enable the U.S. Air Force to continue modernizing the nation’s worldwide navigation network with improved accuracy, better anti-jam resiliency and a new signal for civil users.
GPS satellites are frequent payload into space. Today’s launch was the 73rd GPS payload powered by ULA.
Of the 81 Air Force satellites in orbit, 34 are GPS satellites.
This fact recently led former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to quip, “The blue dot on your phone is not provided by your cellphone company; it comes from the United States Air Force.”
She elaborated that the Air Force provides GPS coordinates for about 1 billion people every day and enables an $80 billion piece of our economy. With its satellites, the Air Force takes pictures, gathers intelligence, facilitates global communication, monitors weather and conducts the critical task of providing timing signals for the New York Stock Exchange and every ATM in America.
This was the final flight for ULA’s Delta IV Medium rocket. The powerful Delta IV Heavy, with its three common booster cores, will continue to fly U.S. government missions.
The Delta IV’s main engine, manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne, consumed nearly a ton of fuel per second as it pushed the rocket in flight.
ULA’s 1.6 million square-foot manufacturing facility in Decatur is the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
Watch the launch:
A bitter sweet morning at rocket ranch east. Last of the Delta IV mediums flew away carrying the next gen GPS satellite. Delta IV will fly on in the heavy configuration. It was a beautiful day to fly! 🚀😃 pic.twitter.com/zypwqtMW2N
— Dane Drefke (@DaneDrefke) August 22, 2019
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer News