The United Launch Alliance (ULA) is slowly but surely working towards upgrading the GPS constellation with yesterday’s successful launch of a new GPS IIF satellite. This $245 million satellite is the 10th in the IIF series and will replace a 19-year-old satellite that was past its life-expectancy.
The Atlas V rocket took off from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday at 11:36 a.m. ET and is the second launch this year. Another launch, also from an Atlas V rocket, is planned for October with the last Block II satellite scheduled for a February 2016 launch. The next-generation satellites, referred creatively as Block III, are currently in production and should provide additional benefits over the Block II satellites recently launched.
The GPS constellation currently consists of 31 satellites orbiting more than 12,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. These satellites provide 24/7 coverage of the entire globe, providing location information that is used on various private, commercial and even military purposes.
I won’t go any further into it here, but if you want to read more about the various ULA launches along with details about the GPS satellite launch, check out ULA’s website.