US Air Force Successfully Launches GPS IIR Satellite
An upgraded Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite, built by Lockheed Martin for the US Air Force, was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral. The satellite features significant performance upgrades, including an advanced antenna panel, which will increase power for GPS receivers. This was the eleventh successful launch of the new generation GPS IIR spacecraft. The Global Positioning System allows any properly equipped user to determine precise time and velocity and worldwide latitude, longitude and altitude within a few meters. Although originally designed as a guidance and navigational tool for the military, GPS has proven beneficial in the commercial and civil markets for a number of activities, including transportation, surveying and rescue operations. 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. To bring new capabilities to the GPS constellation, Lockheed Martin is under contract to modernize up to eight existing GPS IIR spacecrafts already built and in storage. These spacecrafts, designated GPS IIR-M, will incorporate two new military signals and a second civil signal, thus providing military and civilian users of the navigation system with improved capabilities, much sooner than previously envisioned. Lockheed Martin is performing GPS modernization at its Space Systems facilities in Valley Forge, PA, and ITT Industries in Clifton, NJ. The first launch of a GPS IIR-M satellite is scheduled for February 2005. Lockheed Martin is also leading a team to develop the US 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. The new satellite system will enhance space-based navigation and performance and set a new world standard for positioning and timing services. The team selected to meet this challenge will provide system and sustaining engineering, satellite development and production, control segment upgrades, and continuous research and development for this evolutionary system.