Air Force’s GPS satellite launches into space

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

GPS rockets
Launching GPS satellites into space ensures that the military and civilians can navigate around the world safely.

A massive 20-story rocket shot into the sky with a fiery bright tail from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Friday. It carried the Air Force’s Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite into orbit, where it will help track people’s locations on Earth.

The Delta IV rocket blazed high above the Atlantic Ocean as it soared skyward, hauling the 6th of 12 satellites being used to upgrade the space-based navigation system made up of 30 operational satellites. This incredibly important high-tech network that orbits the Earth is known as the GPS “constellation”, named after the clusters of stars in the sky. It’s responsible for supporting everything from military missions to regular civilians getting driving directions. It even helps money transactions find their way to the right location!

This is the 5th launch of the year made possible by the United Launch Alliance (ULA), which is a coordinated effort between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. These two mega companies are the USA’s main aerospace (flight science) and defense contractors, responsible for rockets, satellites, and space exploration. Recently, SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder, Elon Musk, has been challenging the ULA’s dominance over the USA’s $70 billion worth of rocket launching contracts.

Images courtesy of the United Launch Alliance.