Every day, we rely a little more on GPS satellites for both work and pleasure. Along with items like your car GPS navigation system, many items in Google Earth (such as these ships, real-time air traffic or following Frank) require GPS to enable us to see their current location.
Last week, the U.S. Air Force launched a new satellite (the GPS IIF SV-1), the first in a series of launches aimed at replacing all 24 existing satellites over the next 10 years.
These new satellites offer a variety of enhancements over the existing ones. The most important part of this project is to simply replace them. Numerous reports are concerned that the existing network may begin to fail due to age. This will obviously remedy that.
In addition, these new satellites will provide a stronger, more accurate signal. Rather than the roughly 20 foot accuracy that you currently receive, the new ones will allow for accuracy down to about 3 feet. In addition, the stronger signal will help more GPS units to function properly indoors, which could be a big boost for various augmented reality tools that are beginning to find their way into the marketplace.
You can view the launch of the IIF SV-1 (aboard the Delta IV rocket) below:
The launch of the next satellite (GPS IIF SV-2) is scheduled for November, 2010.