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12-Oct-99 | Delta flight 275 – NAVSTAR IIR-3

The first NAVSTAR GPS satellite to replenish the constellation since November 1997 was launched aboard Delta 275 on Thursday, October 7, from Cape Canaveral’s SLC-17A. The flight of GPS 2R-3, which was a complete success, had been delayed by several months thanks to numerous bouts of bad weather, including a heavy rain in May that led to the original spacecraft for this flight being returned to Lockheed Martin for repairs, last month’s threat from Hurricane Floyd, and lightning indications during the time slated for second stage fuelling. Oddly, the last day’s delay was caused not only by a forecast of lousy weather, but also by the sun — a satellite used to relay telemetry from Antigua passed in front of the sun and would have resulted in a 6-minute data blackout during the flight. Following all of that, it only stands to reason that the countdown was flawless and the bird flew a mere 0.686 seconds after the opening of the launch window. The payload separated into its transfer orbit 68 minutes later. Seventeen more GPS satellites are manifested aboard Delta II; nine are set to fly before the end of 2001.

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