California, US: Boeing completed the fifth of 12 GPS IIF satellites the company is building for the US Air Force. The spacecraft was built at the Satellite Development Center in El Segundo using the GPS IIF pulse-line manufacturing approach, which draws on commercial production line practices to build satellites faster and more efficiently.
Of the five completed GPS IIF satellites, two are on orbit as part of the current 31-satellite constellation; both satellites are meeting mission requirements. Three satellites are in storage on standby for launch by the Air Force. The remaining seven are in various stages of pulse-line production and will likely be added to the constellation over the next three to five years as determined by the Air Force to ensure robust constellation availability.
“Boeing, in close partnership with the US Air Force, is focused on execution and mission assurance — we are committed to sustaining the GPS constellation with GPS IIF,” said Craig Cooning, Boeing vice president and general manager of Space & Intelligence Systems. “The GPS IIF spacecraft feature more capability and improved mission performance for the warfighters and civilians who depend on this critical system.”
The next GPS IIF launch is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2012. The satellite will be launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US.
GPS is a space-based, worldwide navigation system providing users with highly accurate, three-dimensional position, velocity and timing information 24 hours a day in all weather conditions. GPS IIF satellites provide enhanced capabilities, including a jam-resistant military signal, greater accuracy through improved atomic clock technology, and a protected, civilian L5 signal to aid commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications. Boeing also is the prime contractor for the GPS Operational Control Segment, which has supported an expanding set of GPS services and capabilities since 2007.