Next-generation GPS satellite launches successfully

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Next-generation GPS satellite launches successfully

Much delayed upgrade makes it into orbit.

The first in a new generation of global positioning system (GPS) satellites has successfully reached orbit, after a much-delayed launch schedule.

The GPS IIF-1 satellite was successfully launched by a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after many weeks of delays due to technical issues and poor weather conditions.

The satellite will be the first of 12 that will upgrade the GPS network, with another launch scheduled before the end of the year.

"The new GPS IIF satellites bring key improvements, including a more jam-resistant military signal, a new civil signal to enhance commercial aviation and search-and-rescue operations, and significantly improved signal accuracy as more of these new satellites go into operation," said Craig Cooning, general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems.

The US government has expressed serious concerns about the viability of the GPS network after continued delays in replacement satellite launches and a lack of service improvements. This launch will help augment the existing system and allow room for further upgrades.

The EU is working on its own GPS system, dubbed Galileo, while there is still a bare-bones Russian positioning system left over from the Cold War. China too is working on its own GPS network, as is Japan, and other nations are considering sharing new networks.

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