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February 23, 2014

USAF launches fifth Boeing GPS IIF satellite

The US Air Force (USAF) has launched the fifth Boeing global positioning system (GPS) IIF satellite from Space Launch Complex-37 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

GPS IIF-5 satellite

The US Air Force (USAF) has launched the fifth Boeing global positioning system (GPS) IIF satellite from Space Launch Complex-37 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

Launched onboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Medium-plus configuration evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV), the satellite sent first signals to its manufacturer approximately three and a half hours later.

Space and Missile Systems Center Global Positioning Systems Directorate director colonel Bill Cooley said the modernised capabilities that are coming on board with the successful launch of GPS IIF-5 will support the worldwide GPS community for many years.

"The new capabilities provided by the IIF satellites will improve operations, sustainment and overall GPS service for the warfighter, international, commercial and civil communities," Cooley said.

The satellite will be handed over to the GPS system operator, USAF, next month, following on-orbit activation, checkout and testing.

Capable of providing jam-resistant military signals in hostile environments, the GPS IIF satellites are an interim class of next-generation satellites designed to replace the GPS Block IIA satellites, which were launched between 1990 and 1997.

In addition to offering greater navigational accuracy through improvements in atomic clock technology, the satellites deliver a second civil signal (L2C) for dual-frequency equipment, a new third civil signal (L5) to support commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications.

"The satellite will be handed over to the GPS system operator, USAF, next month, following on-orbit activation, checkout and testing."

Under its contract with the US Department of Defense (DoD) for the production of 12 GPS IIF satellites, Boeing has to date manufactured six satellites.

The first four satellites were launched aboard a Delta IV vehicle in May 2010, July 2011, November 2012 and May 2013, respectively, while the sixth GPS IIF is at the Florida launch site undergoing preparations for a second quarter launch.

The remaining six are under various stages of development at the Boeing Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, California, US.


Image: A Delta IV rocket successfully launches the GPS IIF-5 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of Ben Cooper, United Launch Alliance.

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