US Air Force set to launch 1st next-generation GPS satellite

The U.S. Air Force is about to launch the first of a new generation of GPS satellites, designed to be more accurate, secure and versatile.

The satellite is scheduled to lift off tomorrow from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It's the first of 32 planned GPS III satellites, all being built by Lockheed Martin outside Denver. They'll replace older satellites now in orbit.

The program is months behind schedule, and the Government Accountability Office says costs have increased.

GAO says some of the satellites' most highly touted features won't be fully available until 2022 or later because of problems in a companion program to develop a new ground control system for the satellites.

The Air Force estimates that 4 billion people worldwide use GPS for everything from navigation to time-stamping bank transactions.

 

Dawn Kamber