The US Air Force’s (USAF) eighth Boeing-built global positioning system (GPS) IIF satellite has joined the active 31-satellite constellation following completion of on-orbit checkout.
The GPS IIF-8 satellite was successfully launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US, in October this year.
Four GPS-IIF satellites have been put into service by the USAF and Boeing this year, continuing the modernisation of GPS constellation that is used by millions of people worldwide.
Boeing Network & Space Systems Government Space Systems vice-president Dan Hart said: "We made great progress this year in the quest to modernise GPS services.
"With two-thirds of the 12 Boeing GPS IIFs now on orbit, the constellation is setting new records for accuracy and the Boeing GPS IIF’s are consistently among the best performing."
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.
Apart from offering greater navigational accuracy through improvements in atomic clock technology, the satellites also deliver a second civil signal (L2C) for dual-frequency equipment, and a new third civil signal (L5) to support commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications.
Under contract with the US Department of Defense for production of 12 GPS IIF satellites, Boeing has so far manufactured eight satellites. The remaining four are stored and maintained at the Boeing Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, California, US.
The next GPS IIF satellite is expected to be launched during the first quarter of 2015.
Boeing has been contributing to GPS since its inception, delivering four generations of satellites over a four-decade period.
Hart said: "We continue to support today’s GPS mission, and are looking forward to delivering the remaining four GPS IIF satellites into service.
"At the same time, Boeing continues to explore innovative new solutions that will further enhance and improve the next generation of GPS satellites."
Image: A ULA Atlas V rocket launches the GPS IIF-8 satellite for the US Air Force. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance.