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First Boeing GPS IIF spacecraft ready for launch

Boeing technicians work on multiple GPS IIF satellites moving through the

CAPE CANAVERAL (BNS): After successfully completing its prelaunch test, Boeing has decided to launch the first 12 Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF navigation spacecraft on Thursday.

The satellite, GPS IIF-1, being built for the US Air Force is scheduled for a May 20 launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

GPS is a space-based, worldwide navigation system providing users with highly accurate, three-dimensional position, navigation and timing information 24 hours a day in all weather conditions, a Boeing statement said.

"These next-generation satellites provide improved accuracy through advanced atomic clocks; a more jam-resistant military signal and a longer design life than earlier GPS satellites; and a new civil signal that benefits aviation safety and search-and-rescue efforts," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager, Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems.

"GPS IIF is the culmination of our deep experience with 39 successful satellites from previous missions, representing more than 30 years of teamwork with the Air Force."

As the first spacecraft in the GPS IIF series, GPS IIF-1 underwent stringent and comprehensive testing following shipment to the launch site in February.

Tests included verification of key satellite functions as well as end-to-end system testing to verify operations between the satellite and the Boeing-built ground control segment at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. Commands were sent from Schriever to GPS IIF-1 at Cape Canaveral to turn on payloads, reprogram processors, and verify interoperability with user receivers and equipment, both civil and military.

In April, the Air Force and Boeing team completed a comprehensive series of prelaunch exercises. These included a mission dress rehearsal and two integrated crew exercises that involved all GPS IIF launch and missions operations crews, from controllers at Schriever to space vehicle engineers and range radar operators at Cape Canaveral to tracking stations around the world.

Air Force Col. David Madden, GPS Wing Commander said, "GPS IIF will increase the signal power, precision and capacity of the system, and form the core of the GPS constellation for years to come."

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