Air Force successfully launches GPS IIF-12 satellite

February 8, 2016  - By

The U.S. Air Force successfully launched the 12th Boeing-built GPS IIF satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle from Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 8:38 a.m. EST (5:38 a.m. PST) on Feb. 5.

“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,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force program executive officer for space. “The GPS IIF satellite performance has been exceptional and is expected to be operational for years to come.”

“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!'”

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the GPS IIF-12 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral. (Photo: ULA)

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the GPS IIF-12 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral. (Photo: ULA)

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.  GPS IIF is critical to U.S. national security and to sustainment of the GPS constellation for civil, commercial, and military users. GPS IIF satellites play an integral part in the modernization efforts vigorously being pursued across space, ground and user equipment to provide stronger signals and improved resiliency in the GPS constellation.

“Today’s launch marks a momentous milestone in the history of the Global Positioning System. It is the twelfth and last GPS IIF satellite and closes out nearly 27 years of launches for the GPS Block II family of satellites,” said Col. Shawn Fairhurst, 45th Space Wing vice commander, who served as the Launch Decision Authority. “As the nation’s premier gateway to space, we are proud to be part of the team providing GPS and its capabilities to the world and look forward to the future as we begin preparation for the next generation of GPS III satellites. Together with the Space and Missile Systems Center and our industry partners, we make up one team delivering assured space launch and combat capabilities for the nation.”

An Airmen-led processing team at CCAFS has processed every satellite of the series since GPS IIF-1 launched here in May 2010.

The Boeing-built GPS IIF satellites provides improved accuracy through advanced atomic clocks, a longer design life than previous GPS satellites, and a new operational third civil signal (L5) that benefits commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications. It also continues to deploy the modernized capabilities that began with the GPS IIR-M satellites, including a more robust military signal.

GPS is the United States Department of Defense’s largest satellite constellation with 31-operational satellites on orbit.

Operated by Air Force Space Command’s 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, located east of Colorado Springs, Colo., the GPS constellation provides precise positioning, navigation and timing services worldwide as a free service provided by the Air Force, seven days a week, 24-hours a day.

Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force’s center for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.

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1 Comment on "Air Force successfully launches GPS IIF-12 satellite"

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  1. Dave O says:

    So that’s it for the Block II’s? I wonder how soon before the Block III’s are ready.