September 26, 2005

New GPS Satellite Launched

With more and more people (civilian and military) using GPS signals, a new more powerful replacement satellite was launched yesterday from Cape Canaveral. The 2 ton GPS 2R-M1 is a new breed of satellite that will provide the normal navigation signals, as well as an extra civilian signal. These new signals will bring greater accuracy, added resistance to interference and enhanced performance for users around the world. On top of this two new military signals will be broadcast from the satellite.

"The advancements for the military will provide warfighters with a more robust jam-resistant signal and enable better targeting of GPS-guided weapons in hostile environments, while the new civilian signal removes navigation errors caused by the Earth's ionosphere."

"One part of our responsibility that we take very seriously is what we call backwards compatibility making sure while we are modernizing and adding new signals for both the military and civil customers we're not introducing inadvertent problems for those users out there already with their GPS receivers across many hundreds of thousands of DoD platforms, coalition partner military platforms as well as millions of civil users -- things like OnStar, what's embedded in cell phones as well as automobiles. We want to be very careful to make sure that we don't do anything to (mess) those up," said Col. Allan Ballenger, GPS system program director at the Space and Missile Systems Center.

"Lockheed Martin has built 21 of the GPS 2R satellites for the Air Force, of which 14 have now launched. Five years ago, the military decided to add the modernization features to the final eight spacecraft in the series.

The changes fit within the existing GPS 2R satellite design. The modernized spacecraft weigh 4,545 pounds at launch, only 60 pounds heavier than the earlier model, have a redesigned external antenna panel and higher-power, more-efficient transmitters. "

This new satellite will be placed into orbit and an older one launched in 1993 will be taken out of active use and put into back-up position. The air force is planning on launching three new GPS satellites of this generation in the next year.

If all goes well, we should start seeing results in a few months, with improvements whenever we get one of these puppies up.


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Posted by Scott Martin at September 26, 2005 10:10 PM

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