The next generation of GPS satellites will be more powerful, versatile and reliable than current GPS satellites.
The Block III satellites are about to begin testing in a Lockheed Martin complex in Colorado. The new satellites are part of the $5.5 billion upgrade to the government run Global Positioning System satellites.
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"It's a really big jump," said Col. Harold "Stormy" Martin of the Air Force Space Command. "With these additional signals, the additional power it's going to bring, it's quite a leap from the other systems."
The new GPS satellites will be able to provide more accurate directions than the current system. Block III satellites will be able to determine positions within three feet in comparison to the ten feet with current technology. Google Maps new indoor function will benefit from the more accurate navigation of the Block III satellites.
Block III GPS is also more reliable even in covered areas. Even in city streets surrounded by skyscrapers the new GPS satellites will be able to pinpoint locations. Another improvement over current technology is the Block III's signal which will be harder to jam in case of intentional attacks. Consumer-grade GPS jammers will also have a harder time jamming the Block III GPS. Commercial drivers who don't want to be tracked through GPS won't be able to use their jammers on the Block III's transmissions.
The prototype being tested at Lockheed Martin isn't being launched in space. The first flight model is scheduled to launch on May 2014. The Pentagon is looking to buy 32 satellites with the new technology but consumers will have to rely on current GPS satellites for a few more years.