Home Innovations GPS US Air Force replaces GPS 2A-11 with GPS IIF-2

US Air Force replaces GPS 2A-11 with GPS IIF-2

US: The United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket blasted off with the Air Force’s GPS IIF-2 (renamed as SVN-63) payload from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US. The SVN-63 replaced the GPS 2A-11 satellite that just celebrated its 20th birthday in orbit, exceeding the wildest expectations for longevity. This launch marked the 50th successful GPS launch on a Delta vehicle.
Meanwhile, Boeing, manufacturer of the satellite, announced that it has received the first on-orbit signals from the GPS IIF-2 satellite.  
“This mission represents the epitome of teamwork and we’re proud to have served alongside a dedicated and well-integrated government and contractor team over the last two decades in successfully launching GPS missions for the United States Air Force,” said Jim Sponnick, United Launch Alliance’s vice president of mission operations.
“GPS IIF enhances the constellation by providing increased accuracy through improved atomic clock technology, a more jam-resistant military signal and a more powerful and secure civilian signal to help commercial airline operations and search-and-rescue missions,” said Jon Goodney, the GPS IIF deputy programme director at Boeing.
GPS satellites orbit about 11,000 nautical miles above the planet and emit continuous navigation signals that allow users to find their location in latitude, longitude and altitude and determine time. The constellation features six orbital planes with multiple satellites flying in each.
“Nearly every piece of military equipment uses GPS precision timing and navigation capabilities to perform its missions more safely and effectively,” said Col. Bernard Gruber, director of the Air Force’s GPS Directorate.
Today’s GPS fleet is comprised of 31 satellites, including 11 Block 2A’s made by Boeing, 12 Block 2R’s and seven 2R-Modernized spacecraft built by Lockheed Martin, and Boeing’s first Block 2F.
Ground controllers expect to have the GPS IIF-2 satellite checked out and ready for service about 30 days after launch. It will occupy the Plane D, Slot 2A location of the network.
“The GPS 2F satellites will become the backbone of the GPS constellation over the next 15 to 18 years,” said Col. Christopher Warack, space systems program manager at GPS Directorate.
The next GPS launch is tentatively targeted for September 2012.
Source: www.space.com