Still Ticking

Boeing and Air Force officials last month celebrated 20 years of operations for the first Global Positioning System Block IIA satellite, which is designated GPS Block IIA-10 (SVN-23). The Air Force and its industry partners placed this satellite into orbit on Nov. 26, 1990, and it began operations two weeks later. Built by then-Rockwell (now Boeing), it had an intended design life of 7.5 years, but has already served longer than any other GPS satellite. Air Force officials anticipate that it has another year to 18 months of life left in it. The overall GPS constellation comprises 31 operational satellites today (11 Block IIA, 12 Block IIR, seven Block IIR-M, and one Block IIF). The Block IIF spacecraft entered service on Aug. 26. Following 12 Block IIFs will come the Lockheed Martin-built GPS Block III model, the first of which is projected to launch in 2014. (Los Angeles release)