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United States Science News Technology

New Air Force Satellites Launched To Improve GPS (techcrunch.com) 77

AmiMoJo writes: This morning, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched a Boeing-built satellite into orbit as part of the U.S. Air Force's Global Positioning System (GPS). This $131 million satellite was the final addition to the Air Force's most recent 12-satellite GPS series, known as the Block IIF satellites. The GPS Block IIF satellites were launched to improve the accuracy of GPS. Before the Block IIF series, the accuracy of GPS could be off by 1 meter. With the new Block IIF satellites in place that error is down to 42 centimeters.
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New Air Force Satellites Launched To Improve GPS

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The dateline on the story is actually for Feb. 5. Spacenews.com also reported the launch was on Feb. 5.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Six by nine. Forty two."

    "That's it. That's all there is."

    "I always thought something was fundamentally wrong with the universe"

    -Douglas Adams

  • Do new satellites drop into the existing network but with improved accuracy? Or will you need an updated device to take advantage of it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You don't need new gear to benefit from these IIF block birds.

      The follow on ones, up next will also be backward compatible...though they will transmit an additional civ signal along with transmitting the old backward compatible one as well, to get the new (second) channel you'll likely need new gear, it's years away.

  • Now you can be tracked within 42 centimeters of your actual location.

    Before someone would have to go to the spot and take a second to look around for you.

  • by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:31PM (#51489565) Homepage Journal

    What are they planning, drones with sniper rifles?

    • Not everything the military uses if solely for killing. There are thousands of uses of in credibly accurate GPS out there. In the near future you might learn what some of those are.

    • Amazon drone delivery service.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Japan has been pioneering this technology. Civilian receivers with extra hardware can get resolution down to 5cm. They are using it for things like automated snow ploughs that can follow the side of the road perfectly. Obviously when the road is solid white you can't use optical tracking. For vehicle navigation they can also tell what lane the car is in, to improve directions given to the driver.

      It's also useful for surveys. Sure, you can get centimetre accuracy with current tech, but it takes a long time.

      • Which constellation of satellites are they using?
        Can you point to what hardware it is that they are making, it should work in the US or elsewhere, and if it does, then I'm surprised I haven't seen it. I'd order some tomorrow if what you are saying is accurate.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    New GPS satellites also carry a COSPAS SARSAT package which has two purposes

    1. It detects existing digital satellite beacons, but since GPS birds fly over the whole planet constantly and pretty fast, it reduces the time from when you activate the beacon until your message is processed by a ground station. When rescue is life-saving, minutes count.

    2. It is ready for future beacons that will have a "back channel" so that after you activate the beacon you can receive a message e.g. "Helicopter dispatched. Move

  • It ended up in a remote fishing village in Iceland, then it drove around Croatia for a couple days. Finally, it was stranded in Death Valley and over-heated.

    Sorry. Couldn't resist. See later story.

  • That launch was almost a week ago. Interesting? You bet. I was pissed that I made it down to Florida on the day after the launch - although the KSC is still a must see and well worth the admission price anyhow. Anyone who misses the Atlantis shuttle exhibit should turn in their geek card. You could tell who the engineers were in the audience - they were either trying to keep from crying, or like me, rendered completely speechless at the intro. Do not miss. I'm such a rocket slut.

    But I digress. Week old ne

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk