CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force and the 45th Space Wing supported the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that roared skyward from Launch Complex 41 here carrying the Air Force's tenth Block IIF navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System at 11:36 a.m. EDT.
The rocket flew in the 401 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.
Once again, the 45th Space Wing team of military personnel, government civilians, and contractors provided support to the ULA launch of the Air Force Space Command mission, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety, and public affairs.
GPS IIF-10 marks the 55th Atlas V launch since the vehicle's inaugural launch in 2002, and the 27th flight of the 401 configuration.
Every operational GPS mission has launched on a ULA or heritage rocket, right here at Cape Canaveral AFS.
GPS IIF-10 is one of the next-generation GPS satellites, incorporating various improvements to provide greater accuracy, increased signals, and enhanced performance for users.
GPS satellites serve and protect our warfighters by providing navigational assistance for U.S. military operations on land, at sea, and in the air.
Civilian users around the world also use and depend on GPS for highly accurate time, location, and velocity information.
According to the Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency, there are four billion GPS-enabled devices worldwide, a number that is expected to double in the next five years.
Gen. John Hyten, commander, Air Force Space Command, who attended the launch with his wife, Laura, and Chief Master Sgt. Douglas McIntyre, AFSPC Command Chief, talked about the Airmen who make GPS possible.
"If you go to Schriever Air Force Base today and you walk into the 2nd Space Operations Squadron, in a little room you'll find seven Airmen," he said in a recent speech.
"(Their) average age will be about 23 years old. Those Airmen are providing everything that is GPS for the entire world. Everything," he said.
"So if you're on a bass boat in the middle of Alabama; if you're on a golf course in the middle of Scotland; wherever you happen to be using GPS, those seven Airmen, average age 23, are providing those capabilities. That's pretty amazing," said Hyten.
Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander, who served as the mission's Launch Decision Authority for the last time prior to her change of command ceremony Aug. 4, echoed Gen. Hyten's comments.
"General Hyten is right on the money; it IS pretty amazing the work our Airmen do," she said.
"And while I offer my heartiest congratulations to ULA, Boeing, Space and Missile Systems Center, the Launch Systems Directorate, the Global Positioning Systems Directorate, and all the mission partners who made this happen, let me just say the greatest professional experience of my life has been to lead the Airmen -- 'The Big A" -- who make up Team Patrick-Cape," she said.
"I have had the privilege of working with the greatest space team ever assembled for the past two-plus years -- highly motivated, very well trained, remarkably innovative and always able to keep their focus on the mission in front of them," she said.
"It's been my honor to serve on this team, and I can't thank you enough for all you've done -- and will continue to do in the future for our Wing, our Air Force and our nation," she said. "Stay Focused Sharks!"