GPS to get boost from satellite launches

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The U.S. Air Force is taking the first steps to upgrading the global positioning system when it launches the first of a new generation of satellites aboard a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Friday night. GPS, a constellation of 24 satellites with six backups, will be replaced one by one over the next decade. When all 30 new satellites are placed in orbit, the system is expected to be much more precise, capable of pinpointing someone’s location within three feet, compared with a margin of error of 20 feet or more today.

The satellite slated to be launched Friday night, GPS IIF, is assembled in El Segundo by Boeing Co.’s Space and Intelligence Systems. It is set for launch at 8:25 p.m. local time.


It will be webcast from Delta IV’s United Launch Alliance’s website.

An in-depth article on GPS and the upgrade will appear Sunday in The Times’ Business section and on the website.

-- W.J. Hennigan