United Launch Alliance (ULA) has launched US Air Force’s global positioning satellite (GPS) IIF-10 satellite aboard its Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

The launch is said to be the company’s sixth mission this year, and 97th successful launch since its inception in December 2006.

The Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle carried out the launch.

"ULA is very proud to play a role in delivering these satellites into orbit."

EELV is a US Air Force programme designed for gaining access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads.

US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center commander Lt Gen Samuel Greaves said: "The GPS IIF satellites are critical for GPS constellation global service for years to come."

GPS IIF-10 joins the worldwide timing and navigation system, which features 24 satellites in six different planes.

The Boeing-built satellites operate from an altitude of approximately 11,000 miles above the Earth, and are designed to provide navigational assistance for US military operations.

ULA Atlas and Delta programmes vice-president Jim Sponnick said: "ULA is very proud to play a role in delivering these satellites into orbit, with Atlas and Delta rockets having launched all 58 operational GPS satellites."

The GPS IIF satellites will offer an operational third civil signal (L5), which will facilitate commercial aviation and safety-of-life missions.

Through advanced atomic clocks, they will provide improved accuracy and have a longer design life compared to previous GPS satellites.

Image: An Atlas V rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral with the GPS IIF-10 mission. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance, LLC.