First GPS III Satellite Launched Successfully

12 Mar 2019

On December 23, 2018, the first GPS III satellite, aboard a Falcon 9, launched into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Once launched the satellite will undergo 18 months of testing to make sure it is ready to be the first of many satellites to be integrated to the existing GPS system orbiting the planet.

The launch itself was a spectacular event ushering in a new generation of GPS technology designed to offer greater security from jamming and interference along with improvements in accuracy and signal strength.

Current estimates are that the civilian use of GPS III satellites will provide three times greater accuracy with the new satellite system. That means that civilian GPS accuracy that has traditionally been good between 10 and 33 feet will now provide accuracy between three and 10 feet instead. The accuracy for military applications will be even more precise.

This marks the first upgrade of a system that has been fully operational for decades. One some would say is long overdue. The launch has been plagued with several days over the course of months but was finally able to occur with great success at 8:51 am on December 23.

While current plans are for some functionality to be live within the next 18 months, the most advanced features of the new satellites will not be available until 2022.

When fully deployed, the GPS III system will consist of 32 new satellites designed to replace and update the older satellites currently in orbit above the planet.

One of the exciting features of the new satellites is that they are interoperable with positioning satellites from other systems and governments as well. Some believe this will help to include accuracy and usefulness of satellites for civilian applications.

With roughly four billion people worldwide relying on GPS for navigation, GPS tracking and more, the need for an upgrade to a flawed GPS system is useful. It does not, however, come without a hefty price tag. This update to the GPS system, supported by President Bill

Clinton in 1998 and authorized by Congress in 2000 is just now coming to fruition, nearly 20 years later.

The original satellite system became fully viable in 1995. To put things in perspective, most people were just beginning to use dial-up Internet access at the time. The technology is old and opportunities for upgrades limited. The new satellites offer a much-needed boost to the current technology and pave the way for future development as well.

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