The Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) IIF system, which brings next-generation capabilities to the space-based, navigation constellation, recently welcomed its sixth satellite. Launched by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) for the U.S. Air Force, the satellite joins a worldwide timing and navigation system of 24 satellites in six different planes that orbits approximately 11,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. The satellites help improve accuracy and enhance performance for GPS users.
According to Boeing, GPS IIF satellites carry with them five specific mission directives. The first is greater navigational accuracy, made possible through improvements in atomic clock technology. Second, delivery of a new civilian L5 signal aids in commercial aviation and search and rescue operations. Third, there’s an improved military signal, which along with variable power, enhances resistance to jamming in hostile environments. Fourth, each satellite features a 12-year design life to provide long-term service and reduce operation costs. Finally, an on-orbit, reprogrammable processor makes it possible to receive software uploads for improved system operation.
Watch highlights of the launch below, courtesy of United Launch Alliance:
Boeing is currently under contact with the U.S. Air Force to build 12 more GPS Block IIF satellites. The company’s pulse-line manufacturing approach helps deliver the fleet on schedule—similar to an airplane assembly line, the IIF pulse line moves a satellite from one work area to the next in a steady rhythm. The launch of GPS IIF-6 marks the program’s sixth successful launch since the launch of IIF-1 in 2010.