Last GPS IIR-M satellites being readied for launch
By Airman David Dobrydney, 45th SW Public Affairs
/ Published January 18, 2008
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- Last Thursday, the second to last Global Positioning System block IIR-M satellites to be launched arrived at Cape Canaveral AFS.
GPS satellite IIR-M20 is one of two currently being processed for launch by the 45th Launch Support Squadron.
The satellites travel on a C-17 aircraft the 1,000 miles from the Lockheed Martin factory in Valley Forge, Pa. to the Cape. While in transit the 4,100 lb. spacecraft is stored in a container purged with nitrogen to remove any moisture that might build up.
Lt. Col. John Wagner, 45 LCSS Commander, and Capt. Bill Bakker, Field Program Manager for the IIR program, were at Valley Forge to monitor the loading of the spacecraft. "Of course it was cold up there at this time of year," said Captain Bakker, "we actually had to heat up the satellite right there on the tarmac."
Colonel Wagner said, "The return flight of this spacecraft to the Cape is a special day and a success story in itself. This was originally IIR-3, damaged by rain on Complex 17 in May 1999 as it was being readied for launch. The fact that the Cape team was able to safe this vehicle and the program office and contractor team modernized it is a success for the American taxpayer, and we will do our best to ensure it supports joint forces worldwide for years to come."
The satellite that arrived last week is now located safely inside the DSCS Processing Facility (DPF), where the 45th LCSS performs mission assurance duties to safeguard the it said 1st Lt. Michael Knauf, field program manager for the IIF program, which is replacing the IIR.
"We watch the contractors to ensure that safety precautions and every technical process about the satellite is being met," he said.
As two of the final three IIR-M satellites are processed at the Cape, the third remains at the factory and is being modified to deliver even more accurate information to the warfighter.
These last three IIR-M satellites are the last in the planned series of eight to be launched on Delta II boosters. Atlas V and Delta IV boosters will be used to launch the follow-on, upgraded series of GPS spacecraft.
"The entire team is working hard to ensure mission success for the fly-out of the last three GPS IIR-M satellites on Delta II boosters," said Lt. Col. Ron Fortson, commander of the 1St Space Launch Squadron. "We take great pride in launching GPS satellites to sustain the constellation that is critical for military and civilian users."
Lieutenant Knauf is proud to help build the GPS network. "It's a pretty cool fact that the world relies on GPS... no matter which contractor the spacecraft comes from, it all culminates at the Cape."
GPS is a space-based radio-positioning system that provides navigation and timing information to military and civilian users worldwide.