By Senior Airman Erica Picariello
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The 50th Space Wing’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron here accepted command and control of the first Global Positioning System Block IIF satellite at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Delta IV-Medium rocket carrying the first Boeing-built Global Positioning System IIF satellite at 11 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 37 May 27.
The Global Positioning Systems Wing, a joint service effort directed by the U.S. Air Force and managed at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., remained in control of the satellite during the test period before the hand-off today to 2 SOPS.
“I’m extremely honored to accept command and control of the first GPS Block IIF satellite,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Grant, 2 SOPS commander. “We are excited to have the privilege of being the first to control the next generation in global positioning satellite technology as we continue to provide our warfighters and civil users the most accurate position, navigation and timing signal available. Fielding newer and more capable systems enables GPS to remain the world’s gold standard.”
The next-generation GPS IIF satellites will provide improved accuracy through advanced atomic clocks, a longer design life than legacy GPS satellites, and a new L5 civil signal (third civil signal) that will benefit civil aviation and other safety-of-life applications. Even though the L5 civil signal meets all requirements, per plan it will stay in development status broadcasting test data until initial operational capability is reached. A message regarding this caveat will be sent out to GPS users worldwide.
It will also continue to deploy the modernized capabilities that began with the eight modernized GPS IIR satellites, including a more robust military signal. GPS IIF satellites will provide improved signals that will enhance the precise global positioning, navigation and timing services supporting both the warfighter and the growing civilian needs of our global economy. The GPS constellation remains the most robust and capable system in the history of space.
The members of 2 SOPS operate the largest Department of Defense spacecraft constellation via the Master Control Station and a worldwide network of monitor stations and ground antennas. The MCS also houses a customer interface, the GPS Operations Center, which is a 24/7 user-focused center of excellence supporting a wide variety of military, civil and commercial users and applications.