The U.S. Air Force is scheduled to launch a new satellite at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday, part of its new class of advanced Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.
The satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, will be sent into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. There are a total of 32 that will be launched, replacing older satellites currently in orbit. The aerospace and defense giant said the spacecraft will have a lifespan of 15 years, a 25 percent increase over that of current models.
The new satellites will have three times better accuracy and eight times better anti-jamming capabilities – which will help the military eliminate interference. Additionally, the GPS satellite will broadcast a compatible signal with other international navigation satellite systems, like Europe’s Galileo system, boosting connectivity.
Sixty percent of the current GPS satellites in orbit are manufactured by Lockheed Martin, according to the company. More than 4 billion military, commercial and civilian users connect with signals generated by GPS satellites every day.
Some of the features will not be available until at least 2022, when a new companion ground control system is unveiled, according to the Associated Press.
The Air Force has named the satellite Vespucci, in honor of Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who was the first person to recognize North and South America as separate continents.
The satellites are being assembled near Denver at a $128 million manufacturing facility. While originally contracted to build 10 GPS III satellites, Lockheed Martin signed a $7.2 billion contract with the Air Force in September for 22 additional GPS satellites.
It is estimated that the first 10 satellites cost about $577 million each.