The Air Force plans to launch the last of the GPS IIF satellites shortly after 8:30 a.m. eastern time on Feb. 5, after concerns about electrical connectors pushed the launch window two days to the right. Walter Lauderdale, the mission director for the GPS IIF-12 launch, said the launch vehicle team was notified of a “possible concern” with the electrical vehicle connectors that provide power and command and control to different components on the launch vehicle, so they took extra time to inspect all of the connectors and verify their integrity. “Frankly, a day or two delay cannot possibly compare to the loss of a vital national asset,” Lauderdale said in a phone teleconference with reporters. The satellite will be launched aboard an Atlas V rocket, powered by an RD-180 engine. Crews were planning to hoist the spacecraft onto the launch vehicle Jan. 30, officials said. The eleventh GPS IIF satellite blasted? off from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on Oct. 31.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.