Press Release

United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches GPS IIR-17 Mission for Air Force

By SpaceRef Editor
October 17, 2007
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Cape Canaveral, Fla., (Oct. 17, 2007) – United Launch Alliance successfully launched a Delta II expendable launch vehicle today from Space Launch Complex 17-A at 8:23 a.m., EDT carrying the Air Force’s GPS IIR-17(M) satellite. This launch marks the third ULA mission this year conducted for the Air Force, and one of the five remaining Air Force Delta II launches.

Following a nominal 1 hour and 8 minute flight, the rocket deployed the GPS IIR-17(M) spacecraft, the fourth modernized NAVSTAR Global Positioning System Block II R-M military navigation satellite. GPS is a space-based radio-positioning system nominally consisting of a minimum of 24-satellite constellation that provides navigation and timing information to military and civilian users worldwide “With nine successful missions completed this year, ULA’s launch team continues to demonstrate its commitment to providing safe, cost-effective, reliable access to space for U.S. government missions,” said Mark Wilkins, vice president of Delta Programs. “We are honored to be a part of launching missions, such as GPS, which are force multipliers for our men and women in uniform serving our country throughout the world.”

Designed to operate for 10 years, GPS satellites orbit the Earth every 12 hours, emitting continuous navigation signals. With the proper equipment, users can receive these signals to calculate time, location and velocity. In addition to its military use, GPS satellites provide directional assistance to civilian users around the world.

The ULA Delta II 7925-9.5 configuration vehicle featured an ULA first stage booster powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A main engine and nine Alliant Techsystems (ATK) strap-on solid rocket motors. An Aerojet AJ10-118K engine powered the second stage. A spin-stabilized Star-48B solid-rocket motor built by ATK boosted the third stage. The payload was encased by a 9.5-foot-diameter metallic payload fairing. ULA began processing the Delta II launch vehicle in Decatur, Ala.,

nearly two years ago. In November 2006, the first stage arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station from Decatur, followed by the second stage in December. The vehicle was erected on the stand at Pad 17-A, Aug. 20, with solid rocket motor installation completed by the end of the month. Hundreds of ULA technicians, engineers and management worked to prepare the vehicle for the GPS IIR-17(M) mission.

ULA’s next launch, currently scheduled for no earlier than mid-November, is the Defense Support Program (DSP-23) satellite for the Air Force aboard a Delta IV Heavy from Space Launch Complex 37 at CCAFS.

ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., Harlingen, Tex. and San Diego, Calif. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

For more information on the ULA joint venture, visit the ULA website at, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321).

SpaceRef staff editor.