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Delta Launches USAF GPS 2R-4 Satellite

A Boeing Delta 2 7925-9.5 rocket successfully launched NAVSTAR GPS 2R-4 from Cape Canaveral Air Station, pad 17A, at 6:48 p.m. PDT, May 10 (0148 UTC May 11). The US$42 million 2032 kg (4479 lbm) satellite was launched into a 12-hour, 20,200 km (10,900 nmi) altitude orbit, inclined at 55°. This is the fourth Block 2R satellite, of a block order of 21, to be supplied by Lockheed Martin. The satellite design is based on Lockheed Martin’s AS-4000 series satellite bus, with a design life of 10 years. This 278th Delta launch cost US$50 million. Boeing has an additional 16 launches manifested aboard the Delta 2 for the satellite-based navigation system.

GPS 2R-4 is replacing the failed GPS 2-1 satellite, which suffered a shutdown of its onboard reaction wheels on March 26. The satellite was decommissioned on April 14. GPS 2-1 was launched 11 years ago, on February 14, 1989, as the first spacecraft to form the current constellation. GPS 2-1 was built by Rockwell International (now part of Boeing) as part of the Block 2 series, having a 7.5 year design life.

The GPS system is separated into six orbital planes, requiring a minimum of four satellites in each, to operate. Three of the planes currently have an additional satellite, giving the network a total of 27 spacecraft. This launch will insert the new satellite into the E-1 slot of the constellation, previously occupied by the recently failed GPS 2-1 satellite, and raise the total number of satellites aloft to 28.

Plane/Slot 1 2 3 4 5 (spare)


2A-21 (39) 2A-12 (25) 2A-28 (38) 2A-15 (27) 2-4 (19)
B 2A-18 (22) 2A-27 (30) 2-2 (13) 2A-22 (35)  
C 2A-24 (36) 2A-25 (33) 2A-19 (31) 2A-20 (37)  
D 2A-11 (24) 2R-3 (46) 2-5 (17) 2A-23 (34) 2-9 (15)
E 2R-4 (51) 2-8 (21) 2A-26 (40) 2A-10 (23) 2-3 (16)
F 2A-17 (29) 2A-14 (26) 2-6 (18) 2A-16 (32) 2R-2 (43)

Table 1: GPS Satellite Planes/Slots

Click on individual cells for more information on the satellite.

Note: Nomenclature used in this table: Block number (2, 2A or 2R), satellite within block. In parentheses, USAF space vehicle number of GPS satellite. Satellites GPS 2-1 (14), 2-7 (20) and 2A-13 (28) have been retired. GPS 2R-1 (42) was destroyed in a Delta launch failure on January 17, 1997.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) network is operated by the U.S. Air Force to provide highly accurate position, speed and timing information to military forces around the world, and is used by a growing number of commercial products. The NAVSTAR Global Positioning System is managed by the NAVSTAR GPS Joint Program Office at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. The USAF 50th Space Wing located at Falcon Air Force Base, Colorado, operates and controls the system.

NAVSTAR GPS stands for Navigation Signal Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System.



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May 10, 2000

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