New GPS satellite begins transmitting to users around the globe

CAPE CANAVERAL — Air Force ground controllers have activated service aboard the newest Global Positioning System satellite, achieving that milestone for the final spacecraft in a dozen built in a manufacturing batch to update the constellation.

The GPS 2F-12 craft was launched into the navigation network from Cape Canaveral atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on Feb. 5.

It underwent testing and checkout before being “set healthy” this morning by operators at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

The satellite was the final one to be launched in a series known as the Block 2F, built by Boeing, with additional signals, improved accuracy, better anti-jamming and longer design lives.

The 12 deployments began in 2010 and all were successfully launched and put into service.

“The addition of the final GPS 2F satellite to the constellation is a colossal triumph, as GPS 2F capabilities are crucial to modernizing the GPS constellation. On-going modernization efforts provide the constellation with improved timing, additional civil signals and increased protection,” said Col. Steve Whitney, Space and Missile Systems Center’s director of the GPS Directorate.

An artist's concept of GPS 2F-12. Credit: Boeing
An artist’s concept of GPS 2F-12. Credit: Boeing

“This launch of the last Block 2F GPS satellite marks a significant milestone for the program, which continues unprecedented support to our military forces and the general public,” said Lt. Gen. David Buck, 14th Air Force commander and commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command.

“The capabilities enabled by the position, navigation and timing signals of the GPS constellation are ingrained into the fabric of our daily lives. From paying at the gas pump, to ATM withdrawals and precision farming; international banking or international shipping, GPS enables the modern way of life,” said Buck.

“It is also a critical component of delivering precise combat power in support of joint and coalition warfighter objectives, and I am pleased to make the constellation more robust and resilient than ever, ensuring we can continue to support America’s warfighters well into the future.”

The next launch for the program will be the first GPS 3 satellite in 2017.

See earlier GPS 2F-12 coverage.

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