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Wing launches 20th GPS satellite

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. -- A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket carrying the U.S. Air Force's Global Positioning System IIR-20 satellite lifts off from Space Launch Complex-17A here at 4:34 a.m. EDT March 24.  After a 1 hour, 8 minute flight the 47th successful GPS satellite launched by a Delta II was delivered to orbit supporting our military operations, along with commercial applications, throughout the world. (Photo by Carleton Bailie, United Launch Alliance)

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. -- A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket carrying the U.S. Air Force's Global Positioning System IIR-20 satellite lifts off from Space Launch Complex-17A here at 4:34 a.m. EDT March 24. After a 1 hour, 8 minute flight the 47th successful GPS satellite launched by a Delta II was delivered to orbit supporting our military operations, along with commercial applications, throughout the world. (Photo by Carleton Bailie, United Launch Alliance)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force early Tuesday morning successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Delta II booster carrying the 20th modernized NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite into space from Pad 17A at Cape Canaveral AFS.

The GPS IIR-20(M) satellite will take over a key location in the constellation of on-orbit satellites providing global coverage and increased performance of GPS services to users worldwide. The modernized series delivers 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 to provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency.

"Every year we have made the GPS signal better, every year the accuracy of the system has improved, and that is what is going to continue to happen," said General C. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command commander.

GPS is the world's foremost space-based positioning and navigation system. Mapping, aerial refueling, rendezvous operations, geodetic surveying, and search and rescue operations have all benefited from the accuracy of GPS. The system is critical for Armed Forces on the sea, air and land as it provides critical situational awareness and precision weapons gui-dance for the military.

"The launch of another GPS satellite provides our warfighters a system on which they can depend to complete their missions successfully," said Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr., 45th Space Wing commander. "Congratulations to the entire team for their hard work and dedication to the mission."

The GPS constellation also supports a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions - from air traffic control to the internet - with precision location and timing information.

A first for the IIR-20 was the inclusion of an L-5 demonstration payload for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Plans are for production models to provide increased accuracy for aviation navigation by eliminating ionospheric interference through the use of a civilian IIF signal, said Mr. Tom Nagle, GPS Wing program manager, civil applications.

Every satellite in the constellation was launched from Cape Canaveral AFS.

"It's great to see months of hard work by the team pay off in the form of a successful launch," said 1st Lt. Jonathan McGuire, Delta II Booster Opera-tions Controller. "It's been a long wait, but knowing that this satellite will be directly supporting the war on terrorism was a reward worth waiting for."