Technology is improving at a consistently rapid pace. As the GPS devices and receivers on Earth become more powerful, the satellites that make it possible for those devices to function need to be improved to keep up. A new and improved constellation of GPS IFF satellites is working its way into orbit. Boeing, the world’s largest military aircraft manufacturer, recently completed the 5th of 12 GPS IIF satellites contracted by the U.S. Air Force. The newest satellite was completed at Boeing’s Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, California.
“Boeing, in close partnership with the U.S. Air Force, is focused on execution and mission assurance — we are committed to sustaining the GPS constellation with GPS IIF,” said Boeing’s vice president and general manager of Space & Intelligence Systems, Craig Cooning. “The GPS IIF spacecraft features more capability and improved mission performance for the warfighters and civilians who depend on this critical system.” 2 of the 5 completed GPS IIF satellites are currently in orbit with the existing 31-satellite constellation. The next satellite will launch and begin transmitting signals to GPS devices around the world sometime in the 4th quarter of 2012.
The GPS IIF satellites were designed to transmit enhanced signals to GPS devices for the military, emergency response teams, and other critical services. They were developed with improved jamming resistance for military signals, a protected civilian L5 signal to assist emergency and aviation applications. The improved satellites also implement atomic clock technology, providing greater accuracy of location data. The 5th GPS IIF satellite is just the latest milestone in Boeing’s ongoing efforts toward improving and expanding GPS capabilities. The St. Louis-based company has been the prime contractor for the GPS Operational Control Segment since 2007.