Air Force agency to launch 3 new GPS satellites

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The Air Force Global Positioning Program is set to launch three new satellites from Cape Canaveral, beginning with a planning liftoff Thursday night.

“We have a lot of satellites that are well past their design life,” said Col. William Cooley, who heads up the GSP directorate at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, in Florida Today. “We’re trying to prevent any sort of outage.”

The Air Force agency maintains a current stock of 36 GPS satellites.

Thursday’s launch will send a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket from Launch Complex 37, Florida Today reported. The satellite on top of the rocket comes from Boeing, and it’s 3,600 pounds — the fifth in a new generation of the technology called IIF, or Two-F.

Of the 36 GPS satellites that are currently orbiting 11,000 miles above Earth, 31 are used for everything from directing weapons to obtaining driving directions.

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