First in new fleet of GPS satellites launches May 27, finally

The GPS IIF artworkMay is a big month for GPS. Ten years ago selective availability of GPS signals was disabled, making accurate GPS technology available to the public rather than just the U.S. military. Boy was field work hard back then - all that map reading!

And this week the Air Force will launch the first of the next generation of GPS satellites - the IIF SV-1. The new satellites each transmit three civilian GPS signals — we’ve typically been making do with just one for years — including a military-strength transmission that should enable autopilots to land with zero visibility. This means always-on GPS that’s accurate to within 3 feet, even indoors and in concrete urban canyons. From Wired.

According to the launch material, each IIF satellite will deliver:

  • Two times greater predicted signal accuracy than heritage satellites;
  • New L5 signals for more robust civil, commercial aviation;
  • Military signal "M-code" and variable power for better resistance to jamming in hostile environments;
  • A 12-year design life providing long-term service and reduced operating costs; and
  • An on-orbit, reprogrammable processor, receiving software uploads for improved system operation.

More information here.