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Rocket launches from Florida


Release Date: 12/22/2003

by 2nd Lt. Kevin E. Coffman 45th Space Wing Public Affairs

12/22/2003 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (AFPN) -- One hundred years after the Wright Brothers flew 120 feet, a Delta II rocket placed a Global Positioning System satellite into orbit from here Dec. 21.

A team consisting of people from the 1st Space Launch Squadron, the Space and Missile Systems Center, Lockheed and Boeing launched the 49th GPS.

"The launch represents another milestone for the Delta II/GPS launch team," said Lt. Col. Brad Broemmel, 1st SLS commander. "This is the 302nd launch of the Delta rocket in our nation's space program. This mission brings a new capability to the fight -- an enhanced antenna panel will increase the power output of the navigation signal, making it less susceptible to interference."

The newest GPS continues to help the people on the battlefield determine precise location and position information 24 hours a day, regardless of weather conditions, officials said.

The GPS satellite transmits a signal to a receiving unit to any place on the planet. The receivers can be handheld or mounted on vehicles. The GPS satellite is also used for intelligence surveillance, reconnaissance and Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

"This launch will replace a satellite starting to run low on power with an improved version, providing all users with increased positioning and timing accuracy," said Capt. Andy Wulfestieg, Air Force Space Command's chief of the GPS operations section.

GPS satellites complete an orbit of Earth every 12 hours with signals so accurate, that location can be determined within 100 feet, officials said.

Once in orbit, people with the 50th Space Wing's 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., will operate the satellite. It will be monitored and navigated by five monitor stations and four ground antennas. These monitoring devices currently control all of the GPS satellites in operation. GPS satellites have a life of eight to 10 years.

"It is undeniably worth its weight when it comes to providing users around the globe with great accuracy and exceptional timing," Wulfestieg said.

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