Boeing and the US Air Force last week completed the GPS IIF constellation with the launch of the 12th Boeing-built satellite at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on February 4. GPS IIF-12 will be formally declared operational in approximately one month, making it the 50th GPS satellite Boeing will have delivered on orbit to the Air Force.
Since the first launch on May 27, 2010, the GPS IIFs have advanced the Air Force’s Global Positioning System modernisation program by improving accuracy and security while introducing new civilian and military capabilities to a system used by millions of people around the world.
“This GPS IIF milestone builds on our 40-plus years of GPS experience and a strong government-Boeing partnership,” said Dan Hart, vice president, Boeing Government Satellite Systems. “We continue investing in GPS innovation while driving down costs, keeping GPS prepared to meet current and future demands.”
Boeing has been the prime contractor for GPS since the program’s inception, providing multiple generations of satellites that have collectively accrued more than 540 years of on-orbit operation.
The launch of the final GPS IIF came as the oldest of the GPS satellites SVN 23 was removed from service, and resulted in the “GPS error” that captured international media attention. The error was caused by ground software that disrupted the coordinated timing system by 13 microseconds. As a result, 15 GPS satellites broadcast the wrong time for limited period of twelve hours. However, according to a report by Inside GNSS, the problem did not appear to affect the network’s ability to provide positioning and navigation, and only had minor effects for timing applications.