GPS IIF Launch Delayed to Assure Booster Readiness

The Air Force has delayed the scheduled Oct. 23 launch of the fifth Global Positioning System Block IIF satellite until it determines whether the United Launch Alliance Delta IV booster that will carry it into orbit requires any additional tweaks prior to launch. The Delta IV booster “has completed the? standard processing and checkout on the launch pad and will be maintained in a ready state for spacecraft mate and launch pending completion of this ?assessment,” the Space and Missile Systems Center told the Daily Report in a written response to a query. The Air Force will establish a new launch date when service officials complete the assessment “in the coming weeks,” states the response. Back in October 2012, a fuel leak in a Delta IV’s second-stage engine caused lower than expected thrust during the launch of the third GPS IIF satellite. Although the satellite successfully reached orbit, the Air Force has been investigating the anomaly. Investigators of this ongoing probe recently came up with “some updated conclusions” about what occurred. Engineers are assessing whether improvements already implemented on the Delta IV suffice or if “additional changes are required,” said SMC.