Share

Spacewatch: new generation of GPS satellite lifts off

The first of a new generation of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites was launched on Sunday.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral air force station in Florida at 1351 GMT (05.51am PST) and the satellite was deployed into its intended orbit almost two hours later.

This generation of navigational satellites is known as GPS III. GPS provides civilian and military navigation and positioning services.

On the civilian side, the GPS III dual-frequency transmission system will allow ionospheric distortions to be more accurately removed, leading to more precise locations.

On the military side, GPS III comes with a signal called M-code that is more resilient in the face of enemy jamming attempts.

There will be 10 new satellites in this particular incarnation of GPS III. The final one is expected to be ready for launch in 2024.

GPS III was approved by the US Congress in 2000 and the first satellite was expected to launch in 2014. However, technical issues with developing the payload contributed to the four-year delay.

This first satellite has been named Vespucci after the 15th-century Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.