| CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. May 15 An unmanned Atlas
rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on
Wednesday to deliver an upgraded global positioning system
satellite into orbit.
The 189-foot (58-meter) tall rocket, built and launched by
United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and
Lockheed Martin, soared into blue skies over Florida's
east coast at 5:38 p.m. (2138 GMT).
Perched on top of the rocket was a 3,400-pound (1,542 kg)
Boeing-built GPS 2F satellite, the fourth of 12 upgraded
spacecraft expected to be added to the orbiting constellation
over the next several years.
"It's a big moment for all of us," Travis Pond, a lieutenant
with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station, said during a United Launch Alliance launch
The navigation satellites are used by the U.S. military and
allies, as well as millions of civilians. The upgraded versions
offer greater accuracy, enhanced internal atomic clocks, better
protection against signal jamming and a new signal for
The satellite, which cost about $121 million, will replace a
spacecraft launched in 1996 that already is twice past its
design lifetime. That satellite will be repositioned for use as
With Wednesday's launch, the GPS network will include 31
operational satellites in orbit.
The next GPS launch is slated for October aboard a United
Launch Alliance Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force