The Air Force and its industry partners on Thursday launched the fifth GPS IIF navigation satellite into space from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket carried the Boeing-built satellite into orbit, lifting off from Space Launch Complex 37 at 8:59 p.m. local time, according to a service release. “Once again, a group of talented mission partners rose to the challenge of launching another successful mission from the Cape,” said Col. Douglas Schiess, 45th Operations Group commander, who oversaw the launch. The satellite joins the four IIF spacecraft already operating on orbit as part of the GPS constellation of some 30 satellites. Compared to earlier model GPS spacecraft, the IIF configuration offers greater navigational accuracy, a new civilian L5 signal, and an improved military signal with better resistance to jamming, according to the Air Force.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.