Delta IV GPS IIF-3 Mission Booklet

United Launch Alliance Provides Update to Global Positioning System Launch

Centennial, Colo., (Oct. 5, 2012) – ULA successfully launched and deployed the GPS IIF-3 satellite in a precise orbit Thursday, but during the launch, observed an unexpected data signature with the upper stage engine throughout a portion of the flight. The Delta IV’s robust system design, flight software, vehicle margins and propellant reserves enabled the successful outcome for this mission.

The unexpected signature was seen during second stage performance as evidenced by a reduced thrust level of the RL10 engine. The onboard inertial guidance and flight control systems compensated for the lower thrust conditions and the Delta second stage delivered the satellite to the proper orbit.

Per standard processes when a flight data item such as this has been identified, ULA and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne have formed a robust investigation team with oversight from major customers. The investigation will thoroughly assess all flight and operational data to determine direct and root causes, and identify/implement appropriate corrective action prior to future flights.

“Though the GPS IIF-3 mission was a complete success, ULA fully understands the challenges of launch and will thoroughly investigate and implement appropriate actions to reliably deliver our customer’s critical capabilities to the orbital positions required,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA’s vice president of Missions Operations.

ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V OTV mission for the Air Force, which utilizes a different model RL10 engine. A thorough review and understanding of this issue will be completed prior to certifying the OTV mission for launch.

ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo.  Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., and Harlingen, Texas. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA Web site at, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at and