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US Air Force launches Lockheed

An upgraded GPS satellite built by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Air Force, was successfully launched today from Cape Canaveral. The satellite features significant performance upgrades, including an advanced antenna panel, which will increase power for GPS receivers. This was the 11th successful launch of the new-generation GPS IIR spacecraft.

The satellite, designated GPS IIR-12, will join 28 other operational GPS satellites now on orbit, and will improve global coverage and increase the overall performance of the GPS constellation. The company has delivered nine more of these satellites to the Navstar GPS Joint Program Office, Space and Missile Systems Center, to sustain the GPS constellation.

The GPS IIR satellites are compatible with the current system and provide improved navigation accuracy, achieved by using an ITT Industries payload system. Additionally, increased autonomy and longer spacecraft life are inherent in the Lockheed Martin satellite design.

Lockheed Martin is also leading a team to develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation Global Positioning System, GPS III. The team, which includes Spectrum Astro, Raytheon, ITT, and General Dynamics, is currently under contract for GPS III concept definition and plans to compete for the future development.

GPS III will address the challenging military transformational and civil needs across the globe, including advanced anti-jam capabilities, improved system security and accuracy, and reliability.