Liftoff! Delta IV Launches Next Generation GPS Satellite

by Nancy Atkinson on October 4, 2012

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A Delta IV rocket launched from Florida today, sending a next-generation Global Positioning System satellite into orbit. The rocket lifted off at 12:10 UTC with the GPS IIF-3 satellite that will be part of the GPS system that is used by both civilians and the military. The new satellite will replace a 19-year-old navigation satellite in the global system that includes 31 operational satellites on-orbit which broadcast position, navigation and timing information to people around the world.

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV stands ready for launch at Space Launch complex 37 with the GPS IIF-3 satellite. Credit: ULA

The satellite, built by Boeing, is the third of 12 planned launches to provide improved GPS signals, featuring improved anti-jam technology, more precise atomic clocks, an upgraded civilian channel for commercial aviation and on-board processors that can be reprogrammed in flight, according to CBS News.

The new satellite should be operational by November.

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Sky Goodman October 4, 2012 at 8:56 PM

does this gps have the new atomic clock accuracy or is that science still too new for deployment?

The Latinist October 5, 2012 at 2:47 PM

It’s about time. Long overdue, in fact. This is being sold as merely an upgrade, but it’s really a life-saving measure for a GPS system which was (and still is) in great danger of losing satellites essential to aviation.

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