USAF delays launch of first GPS 3 satellite

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The U.S. Air Force has pushed back its launch of the GPS 3 satellite, the newest generation of positioning, navigation and timing technology to 2017.

USAF delays launch of first GPS 3 satellite

The U.S. Air Force has pushed back its launch of the GPS 3 satellite, the newest generation of positioning, navigation and timing technology to 2017.

The Air Force previously indicated the GPS 3 would launch in 2016.

The first of the GPS 3 satellites was originally targeted for a 2014 launch but was delayed due to technical difficulties with the main payload, according to Mark Valerio, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s military space business.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver is building eight GPS 3 satellites under a multibillion-dollar contract that includes options for up to four more.

The satellites are designed to provide more accurate navigation signals that are also more resistant to both intentional and unintentional interference than those from earlier-generation craft.

The Air Force and Lockheed Martin are considering launching the GPS 3 satellites on board the SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets.

“There is nothing that we have seen so far that we could not launch off Falcon 9,” Valerio said.

Competition for the next group of satellites is fierce. Companies such as Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems and Northrup Grumman Aerospace have expressed interest in supplanting Lockheed Martin.

“The best thing I can do is keep marching along the plan we have,” said Lockheed Martin’s Valerio. “We’re certainly not afraid of the competition.”