Last Block IIF to replace oldest GPS satellite

January 22, 2016  - By
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Image: GPS World

On Feb. 3, the Air Force plans to launch the 12th, and last, satellite in the Block IIF series of modernized GPS spacecraft. The Air Force has produced 12 IIF satellites, featuring new clocks, new civil and military signals, and other upgrades for enhanced accuracy and robustness.

Currently, 31 GPS satellites are in operational service, including 11 Block IIF satellites and 20 spacecraft from previous generations.

The Air Force Second Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS) indicates that IIF-12 (SVN-70/PRN-32) will replace SVN-41/PRN-14 in the F plane, slot F1. SVN-41 will be re-phased from the F1 location to a newly defined F7 node (GLAN = 45°) once SVN-70 is set healthy.

Meanwhile, SVN-23/PRN-32 (IIA-10) will be taken out of the operational constellation before IIF-12’s launch and sent to Launch, Anomaly, Resolution, and Disposal Operations (LADO).

“SVN-23, launched on Nov. 26, 1990, has been an ‘Iron Bird’ workhorse in the E-plane and has successfully served the world’s GPS users for over 25 years,” said Rick Hamilton, CGSIC Executive Secretariat, in an email. “This is over 18 years past its designed service life, having operationally outlasted (and, in many cases, outperformed) its peers on-orbit due to the diligent efforts of the men and women of the U.S. Air Force.”

PRN-04 is tentatively scheduled for assignment to the first of the new generation of GPS-III satellites, available for launch sometime in 2017.

Date/Site/Launch Time: Wednesday, Feb. 03, 2016, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  18 minute launch window opens at 1347Z, 0847 EST.

Rocket/Payload: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 will launch the GPS IIF-12 mission for the U.S. Air Force.

Launch Updates: To keep up to speed with updates to the launch countdown, dial the ULA launch hotline at 1-877-852-4321 or join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch, twitter.com/ulalaunch and instagram.com/ulalaunch; hashtags #GPSIIF12 and #AtlasV.

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