Boeing has successfully launched the 12th satellite for the US Air Force’s (USAF) Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF constellation from the Space Launch Complex-41 in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
The GPS IIF-12 lifted off from a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle and was released into its medium Earth orbit of about 12,000 miles.
Boeing Government Satellite Systems vice-president Dan Hart said: "This GPS IIF milestone builds on our 40-plus years of GPS experience and a strong government-Boeing partnership.
"We continue investing in GPS innovation while driving down costs, keeping GPS prepared to meet current and future demands."
The launch will be followed by on-orbit tests to confirm the operational capability of GPS IIF-12.
The GPS IIF satellites bring into service the dedicated civil signal (L5) and multiple civil / military signals L1M, L2M, L2C, and provide improved accuracy, greater security and anti-jam capabilities compared to the previous GPS blocks.
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The first satellite, GPS IIF-1, was launched in May 2010 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Orbiting at an altitude of 10,898nm, the GPS satellites have a designed life of 12 years, but have been operating for more than 20 years, with the oldest being in service for 25 years.
The GPS Master Control Station at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, is operated by the 50th SW’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron.
The latest development brings the total number of GPS satellite delivered on orbit to the USAF to 50.
Image: A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the GPS IIF-12 mission. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance.