Next GPS Satellite to Launch Monday
If all goes as scheduled, on Monday a Delta II rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with some good payload for GPS users. Inside the rocket will be a GPS IIR-M, a new satellite to help power the GPS constellation.
This new satellite will be known as GPS IIR-15 (M) and will join 29 other satellites which make up the GPS system. (It is commonly stated that the GPS system has 24 satellites — while 24 are necessary to complete the constellation there are more GPS satellites than that orbiting so that some can be pulled in and out of operation for maintenance.) There is one other “modern” satellite like this one already in orbit and 12 other “Block IIR” satellites in orbit.
So what is so nice about this and the other “modern” satellite?
The GPS IIR-M series offers a variety of enhanced features for GPS users, such as a modernized antenna panel that provides increased signal power to receivers on the ground, two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military, and a second civil signal that will provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency.
However, the improved signal power comes from the L2C GPS Signal and thus won’t be available in consumer level GPS receivers for awhile yet.