The famous white and orange stripes of United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV medium rocket will take to the skies for the last time in a medium configuration from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Thursday as it pulls a propelled GPS military satellite to orbit.
When a United Launch Alliance’s celebrated Delta 4 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station early Thursday, it will mark the last time the Space Coast feels the thunder of an RS-68 engine flying in tandem with two strong rocket motors.
The 9 a.m. EDT target launch time – the opening of a 27-minute window – from Launch Complex 37 will mark Delta IV’s last trip in that configuration. Later on, just Delta IV Heavy rockets, which highlight three cores, will utilize the system. ULA anticipates just flying Vulcan Centaur, later on, its next-generation rocket scheduled for a 2021 debut.
Fortunately, you have one final opportunity to watch it launch live, on ULA’s YouTube channel.
Thursday morning’s mission will take an Air Force Global Positioning System satellite to orbit. Weather is 80% “go.”
Scheduled to launch within a 27-minute launch window that opens at 9 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s launch complex 37, the Delta 4 rocket will carry the second in a series of new propelled satellites called GPS III for the Air Force. The weather is looking 80% “go” for launch with some overcast spread and rain as the essential worries, as indicated by the 45th Weather Squadron.
In the event that the launch is postponed a day, the weather conditions compound to 70% good for launch.
It’ll be the last liftoff for Delta 4 out of a medium configuration after 17 years of launches. ULA is eliminating the rocket to clear a path for its new Vulcan Centaur, which could launch from the Space Coast when 2021. The Delta 4-Heavy still has another five outstanding launches bringing huge payloads through the early 2020s.
“This is the final Delta 4-Medium launch, and I want to recognize the contribution this rocket and the people behind it have made to national security,” said Col. Shane Clark, mission director for the GPS III mission, during a news media conference call.
Delta 4-Medium will get its send-off with a significant payload ready — both for the military and for ordinary clients.
GPS has become such an integrated part of regular daily life, said Bill Gattle, the president of Space Systems for L3Harris Technologies, which assembled the navigation technology on the satellite, that individuals may not perceive what number of various systems depend on the satellites that give global positioning.
“One of my favorite things because of kids is [to remind people that] Pokémon Go would not be possible without GPS,” Gattle said, referring to the popular phone app. “It just has very far-reaching capability into our everyday lives.”
That is the reason the Air Force has invested in a new class of GPS satellites that will ultimately supplant the ones on-orbit now with upgraded technology. Worked by Lockheed Martin, the GPS III class of satellites began to launch to median Earth orbit, 10,900 nautical miles above Earth, on Dec. 23. The second satellite in what might one be able to day be a lot of upwards of 32 will go to space, if all goes well, on Thursday.
GPS III satellites will associate in excess of 4 billion military, commercial and civil clients with GPS around the globe. For regular clients, the satellites come furnished with the ability to associate with different GPS systems, similar to Europe’s Galileo, making it simpler to remain associated abroad.
“On the ground, if you’re in Europe, you’ll be able to pick up either one and use them,” Gattle said.
For military faculty specifically, the GPS satellite will give three-times better accuracy and eight-times improved anti-jamming abilities to protect the signals from being captured by other forces. The spacecraft will likewise have the option to remain in orbit 15 years — about 25% longer than the GPS satellites on-orbit today.
Above all, the systems on these satellites are designed to be “hack-proof,” Gattle said.
“[They have] information insurance, so we’d know if people were inside it,” he said. “This is the first time we will have that software protection.”
Those safeguards are especially significant when safeguarding the country’s assets in space against cyber attacks from different nations has progressively moved toward becoming part of the conversation — to such an extent that it would be incorporated with the mission of President Donald Trump’s proposed Space Force military branch.
“Space is scary and wonderful at the same time,” Gattle said. “It’s scary in the fact that we have an infrastructure that is at risk and wonderful because there is a ton of opportunity for us to make a difference. [The Apollo generation] were truly pioneers on the human front. We are really pioneering some new technology.”