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US Air Force successfully completes GPS system

US: US Air Force has recently launched a GPS IIF-12 satellite in association with the United Launch Alliance. The satellite was launched from the Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch was important from the point of GPS commutation. The satellite was released into its medium Earth orbit around three hours and 23 minutes after launch.

At the occasion, Dan Hart, vice president, Boeing Government Satellite Systems, said: “This GPS IIF milestone builds on our 40-plus years of GPS experience and a strong government-Boeing partnership.”

GPS, which is used across the world for mapping and navigation, is controlled by the US military. The system is maintained by a constellation of satellites, the first of which was launched into the orbit in 1978.

After the launch of final satellite of Block IIF series, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force program officer for space, said in a statement.

“Today’s launch is a significant achievement in the history of GPS, as we launch the last of the GPS IIF satellites to be delivered on-orbit. This milestone is the result of the remarkable relationship between SMC, our operators within the 14th Air Force and our ULA/Boeing industry partners. Their continued tenacity and dedication to mission success ensures we continue to maintain a robust satellite constellation with modernized, more resilient GPS capabilities,” said Greaves. “A job ‘Well Done!’”

According to Greaves, this mission demonstrates the Air Force’s continued intent to deliver pre-eminent space-based positioning, navigation and timing service to users around the globe.

In addition to this commonly used GPS system by US, Russia too has its own satellite navigation system called as GLONASS (GLObal NAvigational Satellite System) which uses 24 satellites. These two systems are currently the only operating satnav systems which cover the complete globe.

In future, the European Union and China are also planning to launch their own global satnav systems. The EU is developing a constellation of 30 satellites called Galileo whereas China will launch the BeiDou Navigation System with 35 satellites. China also has its own regional GPS system known as BeiDou-1.

India is also working towards developing its own regional navigation system known as the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). IRNSS is a collection of 7 satellites out of which 5 satellites, namely, IRNSS-1A, IRNSS-1B, IRNSS-1C, IRNSS-1D, and IRNSS-1E, have already been placed in the orbit.

IRNSS-1E was successfully launched just a couple of weeks back and the remaining satellites are expected to be launched before March this year.

Source: Daily Star Albany