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GPS Block II R

During the middle of 1989, procurement began for 21 additional satellites ("replenishment SVs") from Lockheed Martin, formerly General Electric. The Block IIR SVs will present an identical SIS interface to the User Segment. Under a survivability scenario, the Block IIR SVs will have the capabilities to autonomously navigate (AUTONAV) themselves and generate their own 50 Hz navigation message data. These AUTONAV capabilities will enable the Block IIR SVs to maintain full SIS accuracy for at least 180 days without Control Segment support. AUTONAV will also significantly improve both the reliability and integrity of the broadcast SIS. Accuracy improvements are expected to be approximately 7 meters spherical error probable (SEP) in a full Block IIR constellation.

The Delta II expendable launch vehicle is used to launch GPS satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, into nearly 11,000-mile circular orbits. While orbiting the earth, the systems transmit signals on two different L-band frequencies. Their design life is six years. The Block II GPS satellites weigh 1,860 pounds (in orbit) and are five feet wide, 17.5 feet long (Length includes wingspan), with solar panels generating 700 watts.

The new block of satellites boasts dramatic improvements over the previous Block IIA satellites at approximately a 33-percent reduction in cost per unit. This includes the ability to determine its own position by performing inter-satellite ranging with other IIR space vehicles. It also features reprogrammable processors that enable problem fixes, upgrades in flight, and increased satellite autonomy and radiation hardness. Additionally, the Air Force can launch the Block IIR into any required GPS orbit (with a 60-day advanced notice and dependent upon launch vehicle availability), and requires fewer ground contacts to maintain the constellation. All of these improvements increase accuracy for GPS users. The Air Force has already awarded a contract for the post-Block IIR satellite, the Block IIF, with the expected first launch in 2002.

The primary contractor is Martin Marietta (formerly General Electric) Astro Space.

The first launch of a Block II R satellite came on Jan. 17, 1997 at 11:28 a.m. EST, when the U.S. Air Force launched a McDonnell Douglas-built Delta II rocket from Launch Complex 17-A at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla. An anomaly occurred approximately 12 seconds into powered flight. The vehicle self-destructed, then the flight control officer sent precautionary destruct functions at 21 seconds into flight, when it ceased powered flight. Vehicle components fell into a cleared safety area in the Atlantic Ocean and onto the Air Station. No personnel were injured. No estimate on the damage was initially available, pending an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the mishap. There was no immediate impact to the Global Positioning System satellite constellation as a result of the unsuccessful launch. The space segment team recommended launching a IIR next, followed by the last IIA.

On July 22, 1997 a Delta II launch vehicle lifted an improved next-generation satellite into space from Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL. The launch was the first Air Force flight of the McDonnell Douglas Corp.-built Delta II since the attempt to launch the first GPS IIR satellite exploded shortly after liftoff Jan. 17.

Block IIR-M

A newer version, the Block IIR-M, is in development. The first Block IIR-M satellite launch was initially planned for late FY04. The IIR-M capabilities include developmental military-use-only M-code on the L1 and L2 signals and a civil code on the L2 signal.

On 26 September 2005 a Boeing Delta II launch vehicle successfully delivered the first of the modernized Block IIR Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to space for the U.S. Air Force. The Delta II rocket carrying the GPS IIR-14 (M) spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., yesterday at 11:37 p.m. EDT. Following a nominal 24-minute flight, the rocket deployed the satellite to a transfer orbit.

The Boeing Delta II 7925-9.5 configuration vehicle used for this mission featured a Boeing first stage booster powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A main engine and nine Alliant Techsystems (ATK) solid rocket boosters. An Aerojet AJ10-118K engine powered the storable propellant restartable second stage. A Thiokol Star-48B solid rocket motor propelled the third stage prior to spacecraft deployment. The rocket also flew with a nine-and-a-half-foot diameter Boeing payload fairing. A redundant inertial flight control assembly built by L3 Communications Space & Navigation provided guidance and control for the rocket that enabled a precise deployment of the satellite. The GPS IIR-14 (M) mission also marked the 100th flight of the Delta II using the ATK 40-inch diameter version solid rocket motors.

Boeing provides launches for the GPS program aboard Delta II vehicles and has a planned GPS manifest through at least 2007.

The GPS network supports U.S. military operations conducted from aircraft, ships, land vehicles and by ground personnel. Additional use includes mapping, aerial refueling and rendezvous, geodetic surveys, and search and rescue operations. GPS provides military and civilian users three-dimensional position location data in longitude, latitude and elevation as well as precise time and velocity. The satellites orbit the earth every 12 hours, emitting continuous navigation signals. The signals are so accurate, time can be figured to within one millionth of a second, velocity within a fraction of a mile-per-second and location to within 100 feet.

The new GPS IIR-14 (M) is the first of the modernized GPS satellites that incorporates various improvements to provide greater accuracy, increased resistance to interference and enhanced performance for users.

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