The fifth Boeing GPS IIF satellite has successfully sent some initial signals from space after its launch on February 20. The IIF series of spacecraft will improve position, navigation, and timing information for millions of civilian and military users around the world.
The GPS IIFs are providing greater navigational accuracy through improvements in atomic clock technology, a more resilient signal for commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications, and a longer design life of 12 years.
“Boeing launched the first GPS satellite in 1978 and has played an integral role in the ongoing enhancement of this vital technology ever since,” Craig Cooning, Boeing vice president and general manager of Space & Intelligence Systems, told the India Times.
“The 42 satellites that we have deployed into service to date for the U.S. Air Force have accumulated more than 550 years of on-orbit operations, and the current system continues to meet or exceed all mission requirements.”
GPS IIF-5 launched at 8:59 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket. Boeing received the satellite’s first signals approximately three and a half hours later.
The spacecraft will undergo on-orbit activation, checkout, and testing before being handed over to the operators of the GPS System – the U.S. Air Force – in March.
This was the first GPS IIF satellite launch of 2014. The sixth GPS IIF is at the Florida launch site undergoing preparations for a second quarter launch. The remaining six are at the Boeing Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, California.