It was 50 years ago when the first Delta mission was launched, and the Delta II has been the mainstay of the GPS launches up until the last of the GPS 2 Modified satellites was launched at the end of last year.
Today will see the launch of the first of a new generation of GPS IIF satellites and PocketGPSWorld will be there to witness the event. GatorGuy and myself were invited by the USAF to cover the event and had the privilege to get out to Cape Canaveral and visit the rocket complete with the GPS Satellite on the launch pad. That was last Friday when the rocket was scheduled to launch.
The launch countdown was proceeding smoothly until T-5 when there was a technical issue with the GPS satellite telemetry communicating with the ground control station. They paused the countdown whilst the issue was worked on, resuming at T-5 just before the end of the launch window. We got to T-4 before the count was stopped and the launch was scrubbed (canceled) for the day.
The next attempt at launching was scheduled for Sunday but was scrubbed again before the rocket was fueled and as we were starting our trip to the cape. Today is the next attempt, and the countdown is underway. If tonight's launch fails then things get a little tricky as the Shuttle Atlantis is expected to return on the 26th and they are not able to launch anything within 24 hours either side of the landing.
This is then further complicated by the planned launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9/ Dragon test flight penciled in for the 28th. Not to mention that I fly home on the 30th so they have to launch before then.
So crossed fingers that all goes well tonight and we get a good clean launch heralding a new era of GPS navigation systems.
Posted by MikeB on Mon May 24, 2010 9:47 pm
It goes without saying that we will have a full report and video of the mission after the launch.