The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully test-launched the eighth Boeing-built global positioning system (GPS) IIF satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (AFS) in Florida, US.

Launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket, the satellite sent initial signals from its orbit to its manufacturer approximately three-and-a-half hours later.

With these developments, the modernisation of the GPS satellite constellation has increased.

The US Air Force (USAF) had scheduled four launches this year and the latest flight marks the fourth and final launch.

Boeing network & space systems government space systems vice-president Dan Hart said: "The schedule this year has put the GPS team through its paces, with launches occurring approximately every three months to continue GPS modernisation.

"We typically were processing two satellites concurrently at the Cape, requiring strong execution, an unrelenting focus on mission assurance and solid team work with the Air Force and United Launch Alliance."

"The schedule this year has put the GPS team through its paces."

Improved accuracy and anti-jamming technology are amongst the major initiatives of the GPS IIF as part of its modernisation, as is the introduction of new civil L5 signal services.

Boeing is under contract with the US Department of Defense (DoD) for the manufacture of 12 GPS IIF satellites.

Delta IV has been the launch vehicle for the first four satellites, which happened in May 2010, July 2011, November 2012 and May 2013 respectively.

The next satellite launch is likely to take place in the first quarter of 2015.

Image: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launched the eighth global positioning system (GPS) IIF-8 satellite for the US Air Force. photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance.

Defence Technology