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2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. U.S. Air Force photo.

New Software, Delays for GPS Control Segment, IIF Satellite

IIF_2PNT_low.jpgBlock IIF satellite
January 7, 2010
Inside GNSS, January/February 2010

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The U.S. Air Force GPS Wing and the 50th Space Wing will implement a new ground system software release on January 11 to enable telemetry, tracking, and commanding for the new GPS IIF satellites and provide over-the-air distribution of encryption keys for military user P(Y)-code equipment.

The software will be implemented by the GPS Master Control Center at Schriever AFB, Colorado.

Meanwhile, the schedules for launching the first IIF spacecraft and awarding the prime contract for modernization of the GPS operational control segment (OCX) continue to slip.

The GPS Wing missed its latest self-imposed deadline (December) for getting the first IIF satellite moved to the launch site at Cape Canaveral. That, in turn, appears likely to increase the difficulty of finding a slot in an already crowded 2010 launch schedule, which gives priority to the nation’s space shuttle, which has five launches scheduled this year. The long-delayed IIF inaugural launch now has a “mid-2010” date, according to the GPS Wing.

The earliest date for shipping IIF-1 to Florida appears to be February — assuming that the GPS Wing signs off on recent technical issues that have arisen with the next-generation spacecraft, including wiring on the IIF solar panels and susceptibility to radiation effects of some components.

Meanwhile, the GPS Wing has reportedly told the two competing industry teams that the OCX contract award, most recently set for December, will now take place in February, too.

The software upgrade is designed to enable ground controllers to command the new on-orbit GPS IIF capabilities, which include a new navigation signal for civil users, encrypted military code, crosslink enhancements, improved navigation signal accuracy and signal power increases.

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