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Satnews Daily
February 8th, 2016

US Air Force Launches GPS IIF-12 Satellite + The End Of An Era

[Satnews] The US Air Force and its mission partners successfully launched the 12th Boeing-built Global Positioning System GPS IIF satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle from Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 8:38 a.m. EST (5:38 a.m. PST).

"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.

"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!’”

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 US 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. 

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, Colorado, 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, California, is the US 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.