New GPS Satellite Modernizes Network

Cindy ZimmermanGPS, Raven, technology

The U.S. Air Force has launched a United Launch Alliance Delta IV-Medium rocket carrying the third Global Positioning System IIF satellite which will provide more accurate navigation for military and civilians, including farmers who rely on the satellites for precision agriculture applications.

“Thousands of farmers across the globe depend on GPS to guide their equipment and provide better accuracy during planting, application and harvest seasons,” said Ag Leader Technology Marketing Communications Manager Lori Costello. “New satellites introduce enhanced capabilities and ensure a continued level of high performance, which is reason for Ag Leader and the growers who utilize our precision ag tools to support the recent launch.”

The Boeing IIF GPS 2F-3 is the most advanced GPS satellite to date, delivering greater navigational accuracy through improvements in atomic clock technology; a more secure and jam-resistant military signal; a protected, more precise, and interference-free civilian L5 signal, and an extended design life, according to Boeing.

“With this third IIF satellite now on orbit, Boeing continues to deliver more precise navigation and timing capabilities for military and commercial uses worldwide,” said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems.

Paul Welbig, Director of Slingshot Operations for Raven Industries, says launch of the new satellite demonstrates a continued commitment to modernizing the aging GPS system. “Benefits such as better reliability and improved performance will result, but it will take time before those are apparent to users,” said Welbig. “It’s important to know that most of the newer receivers utilized for precision agriculture today are already compatible with these new satellites so users will be able to enjoy these benefits as they become available.”

The current GPS network includes a total of 31 satellites, with the oldest being almost 22 years in orbit. When the new GPS 2F-3 satellite launched this week becomes operational later this year, it will replace one that has been in service since 1993. GPS 2F-4 and 2F-5 are scheduled to launch in May and November of next year.

“As each 2F satellite becomes operational, we continue the seamless transformation of the GPS constellation into an even more accurate, reliable and durable navigation resource for the U.S. military and the global civilian user community,” said Cooning.