GPS Liftoff

By Courtney Albon / October 29, 2014 at 6:09 PM

The Air Force launched its eighth Global Positioning System IIF satellite today, completing the fourth successful GPS IIF launch this year.

The Boeing-made satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, at 1:21 p.m., the very beginning of its launch window, and was carried by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Col. Bill Cooley, director of the Space and Missile Systems Center's GPS directorate, told reporters during an Oct. 24 pre-launch conference call that the mission completes the highest GPS launch tempo the service has had in 20 years.

Cooley said the satellite is on target to be operational in December. There are currently 38 GPS satellites on orbit, seven of which are in a residual status, which means they're only used to back up the primary constellation.

"Since its inception in the 1970s, GPS has evolved into an essential capability that enables technologies employed everyday across our nation and our world," Cooley said. "Thanks to the investment of the American people and stewardship of the Air Force, we're able to improve on that service that greatly benefits the U.S. warfighter and billions of GPS users around the world. It is a fair and accurate characterization to say GPS has become a global utility."