GPS Block IIR-M Satellite Launched On Delta II

By | March 17, 2008 | Satellite News Feed

A Global Positioning System Block IIR-M satellite was launched into orbit on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] announced.

Lockheed built the satellite, and is half of the ULA joint venture with The Boeing Co. [BA]. The Delta II is formerly a Boeing launch vehicle.

The satellite, designated GPS IIR-19M, is the sixth in a line of eight GPS IIR satellites that Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems, Valley Forge, Pa. has modernized for the Global Positioning Systems Wing of the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.

This liftoff was the third launch of a GPS IIR-M satellite in less than five months and is one of the final three Block IIR-M satellites planned for launch this year to sustain and improve the GPS constellation, Lockheed noted.

Each IIR-M satellite includes a modernized antenna panel that provides increased signal power to receivers on the ground, two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military, and a second civil signal that will provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency.

The GPS constellation provides critical situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military and supports a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions — from air traffic control to the Internet — with precision location and timing information, Lockheed observed.

Space Based Surveillance System To Launch Next Spring; Other Systems Set To Lift Off In Next Two Years: Air Force

By Emelie Rutherford

The Air Force plans by spring next year to launch the developmental Space Based Space Surveillance System (SBSS), one of five planned kickoffs of major new operational space capabilities over the next two years, according to the head of Space and Missile Systems Command at the Air Force Space Command.

"We’re going to see a massive increase in terms of military operational space capability over the next 18, 24 months," Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel told reporters.

Hamel said his command is looking at optical sensors that can be flown on satellite systems to help track smaller objects in space, as part of its focus on space situational awareness.

A near-term effort to tackle that is SBSS, which is planned for a first launch by the spring, he said March 12 at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.

"This for the first time will really give us a very agile ability to both search large volumes of space as well as to be able to rapidly be able to detect and track objects," Hamel said of the SBSS.

Those objects are "such things as [when] a new satellite’s being placed in orbit, we would be able actually observe the reflected light from the satellite, the rocket body, as it travels from lower orbit to a higher orbit."

The SBSS is intended to replace the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) Space Based Visible Sensor. A team of The Boeing Co. [BA] and Ball Aerospace [BLL] is building the SBSS Block 10 system under direction of Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC].

The Air Force has had a "tough decade" with troubled space programs, Hamel acknowledged. Efforts have gone so far over budget that they triggered so-called Nunn-McCurdy reviews involving Congress and the Pentagon, and there had been a series of launch failures in the late 1990s.

Now, though, Hamel said, "We really believe that we are getting our programs back on track and that frankly the sharpest focus we’ve got to have now is delivering many near- term capabilities."

In addition to the SBSS, within the next 18 to 24 months there will be four other first-time launches and deployments of major new operational capabilities in space, he said.

Those four efforts are:

  • The whole constellation of the Wideband Global SATCOM system

 

  • The Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite communications system

 

 

  • The Space-Based Infrared System geo-stationary sensor portion

 

 

  • The Global Positioning System IIF satellite

 

All of these programs are behind schedule.

Still, Hamel struck an optimistic tone on the pending launches and deployments, pointing to the need for the technologies.

For example, the GPS IIF satellite — a planned upgrade of the GPS navigation system – "is going to bring some very substantial new capabilities to both civil users as well as the warfighters," he said.

"So our lock focus over the next 18 to 24 months is to successfully complete those developments and to successfully launch and to actually get all those systems into operation," he said.

Pentagon leaders have voiced repeated calls for greatly improved space situational awareness since China last year used a ground-based interceptor missile to kill one of its own aging weather satellites, creating a huge cloud of lethal space debris threatening satellites and spacecraft in orbit.

China also has used a ground-based laser to "paint" and thereby disable a U.S. military satellite.

Pentagon leaders also fear that enemies might launch satellites that would prey on U.S. military or commercial satellites. Therefore, the goal is for the United States to be able to determine just what is orbiting Earth now; what capabilities each satellite might wield; precisely why any satellite or spacecraft might suddenly experience operational problems or go dead, and more.

Another goal would be to spot an interceptor missile heading upward in an anti-satellite, or ASAT, mission to annihilate a U.S. or allied military or civilian space asset.

National Reconnaissance Office Satellite Launched By Atlas V Rocket

Launch Marks First Time An Atlas V Has Lifted Off From Vandenberg

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., the first time the lifter has used that launch facility.

The Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle lifted off from Space Launch Complex 3E.

NRO termed the launch a success, without stating specifically in a press release that the satellite functioned successfully after launch.

The satellite is assumed to be some sort of intelligence gathering asset.

"This launch directly supports NRO’s goals of being the foundation for global situational awareness and for providing intelligence information on timelines responsive to user needs," according to NRO.

In 2006, an NRO satellite was launched into orbit successfully, but failed to function. Finally, this year, President Bush ordered that failed satellite shot down by a sea- based Aegis weapon system and a Standard Missile-3 interceptor, for fear the unused 1,000 pounds of hydrazine fuel in a tank on the crippled craft might otherwise survive an out- of-control reentry and be spewed through a densely populated area somewhere on Earth.

United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of The Boeing Co. [BA] and Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT].

It was the third time the NRO has used an Atlas V to launch a bird.

Launch Schedule

2008

Date: March 11

Mission: STS-123

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour

Launched: 2:28 a.m. EDT

Description: The crew of space shuttle Endeavour is delivering the Japanese Kibo laboratory and the Canadian two-armed robotics system Dextre on the twenty-fifth mission to the International Space Station.

Date: May 16

Mission: GLAST

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 17 – Pad 17-B

Launch Window: 11:45 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. EDT

Description: An heir to its successful predecessor — the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory — the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope will have the ability to detect gamma rays in a range of energies from thousands to hundreds of billions of times more energetic than the light visible to the human eye. Radiation of such magnitude can only be generated under the most extreme conditions, thus GLAST will focus on studying the most energetic objects and phenomena in the universe.

Date: May 25 +

Mission: STS-124

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Launch Time: 7:26 p.m. EDT

Description: Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-124 will transport the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module – Pressurized Module (JEM-PM) and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System (JEM-RMS) to the International Space Station.

Date: June 15

Mission: OSTM

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC-2

Launch Time: 4:47 a.m. EDT/1:47 a.m. PDT

Description: The Ocean Surface Topography Mission on the Jason-2 satellite will be a follow-on to the Jason mission.

Date: July 15

Mission: IBEX

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL Rocket

Launch Site: Reagan Test Site, Kwajalein Atoll

Description: IBEX’s science objective is to discover the global interaction between the solar wind and the interstellar medium and will achieve this objective by taking a set of global energetic neutral atom images that will answer four fundamental science questions.

Date: Aug. 8 *

Mission: GOES-O

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta IV

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 17

Description: NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are actively engaged in a cooperative program, the multimission Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series N-P. This series will be a vital contributor to weather, solar and space operations, and science.

Date: Aug. 14 +

Mission: TacSat-3

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Minotaur Rocket

Launch Site: Wallops Flight Facility – Goddard Space Flight Center

Description: NASA will support the Air Force launch of the TacSat-3 satellite, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate. TacSat-3 will demonstrate the capability to furnish real-time data to the combatant commander. NASA Ames will fly a microsat and NASA Wallops will fly the CubeSats on this flight in addition to providing the launch range.

Date: Aug. 28 +

Mission: STS-125

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Launch Time: 8:24 a.m. EDT

Description: Space Shuttle Atlantis will fly seven astronauts into space for the fifth and final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. During the 11-day flight, the crew will repair and improve the observatory’s capabilities through 2013.

Date: Oct. 16 +

Mission: STS-126

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space Shuttle Endeavour launching on assembly flight ULF2, will deliver a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the International Space Station.

Date: Oct. 28

Mission: LRO/LCROSS

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Atlas V

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 41

Description: The mission objectives of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite are to advance the Vision for Space Exploration by confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at either the Moon’s North or South Pole.

Date: Dec. 1 *

Mission: SDO

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Atlas V

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 41

Description: The first Space Weather Research Network mission in the Living With a Star (LWS) Program of NASA.

Date: Dec. 4 +

Mission: STS-119

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space Shuttle Discovery launching on assembly flight 15A, will deliver the fourth starboard truss segment to the International Space Station.

Date: Dec. 15

Mission: OCO

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Taurus Rocket

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC 576-E

Description: The Orbiting Carbon Observatory is a new Earth orbiting mission sponsored by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program.

2009

Date: Feb. 1

Mission: NOAA-N Prime

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC-2

Description: NOAA-N Prime is the latest polar-orbiting satellite developed by NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA uses two satellites, a morning and afternoon satellite, to ensure every part of the Earth is observed at least twice every 12 hours. NOAA-N will collect information about Earth’s atmosphere and environment to improve weather prediction and climate research across the globe.

Date: Feb. 16

Mission: Kepler

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 17 – Pad 17-B

Description: The Kepler Mission, a NASA Discovery mission, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth- size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone.

Date: March 1

Mission: Glory

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Taurus Rocket

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC 576-E

Description: The Glory Mission will help increase our understanding of the Earth’s energy balance by collecting data on the properties of aerosols and black carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere and how the Sun’s irradiance affects the Earth’s climate.

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