The U.S. Air Force, in cooperation with the 45th Space Wing, has successfully launched its ninth Block IIF-09 navigation satellite atop a Delta IV rocket by the United Launch Alliance from Cape Canaveral as part of the Global Positioning System.

The launch signifies the 29th using a Delta IV rocket and the 57th for an operational GPS satellite launched on a heritage launch vehicle or a ULA rocket. Aside from GPS satellites for the Air Force, ULA has also launched satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA. This launch used a Delta IV Medium-plus Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle with a common booster core with an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68 for a main engine. Two ATK GEM 60 solid rocket motors were also along for the ride.

Elated about the success of the launch, Brig. Gen. William Cooley, director for the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the Space and Missile Systems Center, boasted about the GPS' legacy of fulfilling its navigation, timing and global positioning commitments for the last 20 years.

"Each new generation of GPS satellites provides enhanced capability over the prior generations and has delivered reliable performance, demonstrating our commitment that GPS remain the Gold Standard space-based positioning, navigation and timing service for the future," he added, thanking as well all parties involved in the success of the GPS.

GPS was built by the Department of Defense as a means of enhancing the military's capability to fight in wars. It is free to use and accessible to anyone using a GPS receiver, even allowing civilians to benefit from the global positioning technology.

The GPS IIF system in particular bumps up performance for the constellation, not just in sustaining GPS functions but for improving features and boosting mission performance.

April 27 will mark the 20th anniversary of the GPS becoming fully operational.

Jim Sponnick, vice president for the Delta and Atlas programs at ULA, congratulated the Air Force and all of the company's mission partners for the success of the launch, saying ULA is honored to work with a world-class team.

"This entire team is focused on 100 percent mission success, one launch at a time, and also providing on-time launches to meet our customer's mission needs. We are proud to contribute to the GPS capabilities that were delivered to orbit," he said.

The GPS IIF-9 joins other satellites in the GPS system orbiting around 11,000 miles from the Earth's surface. The next ULA launch for the AIr Force is scheduled on May 6.

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