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GPS 2F satellite ready for launch

US: First of the Boeing-built GPS 2F satellites will be launched on May 20. The satellites will bring modest improvement to the constellation’s sub-meter positioning accuracy and their cores are similar to the Boeing GPS 2A satellites launched in the 1990s, an Air Force official said, according to Air force Times report.

Boeing and the Air Force discovered engineering flaws during tests late in development of the first satellites. In a prelaunch press briefing, Col. Dave Madden, commander of the Air Force’s GPS wing, said the delays were one-time events that should not happen again. The government added a new civilian signal, L-5 and a new military-only signal, M-Code, that is being used for tests at this point, he said. M-Code is not scheduled to be used operationally until 2013, when the first receivers are fielded.

There were engineering mistakes, Madden said, but those were the result of a failed acquisition strategy called total system performance responsibility, under which contractors were given latitude to meet broad design requirements, he said.

“We removed all the [military] standards, and the system engineering practices that we believed were best practices all got removed during that era,” he said.

Once mistakes were uncovered, the Air Force restored independent oversight of technical work and Boeing set up a series of technology gateways to spot problems early.

During the briefing, Madden’s staff said the average cost of a 2F satellite is USD 121 million. The Government Accountability Office last year declared the programme USD 870 million over budget and three years behind schedule and made the 2F programme the basis for its controversial warning that the GPS constellation could grow unacceptably thin in coming years.

Source: Air Force Times