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Feature Story


Happy Birthday GPS: Little satellite, big impact

On Feb. 22, 1978, an Atlas F rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, carrying the first Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite. NAVSTAR-1, which stands for Navigation System with Timing and Ranging, was launched under the stewardship of the U.S. Air Force to demonstrate the concept of a navigation network.

Since that day 35 years ago, GPS has evolved into a global utility, used daily by millions around the globe in all walks of life, both military and civilian, to enhance productivity. The ways in which GPS can be used to improve basic tasks, from farming to air travel, continue to be discovered.

Boeing has delivered 41 of the 63 GPS spacecraft. Collectively, these satellites have delivered more than 500 years of on-orbit service. Boeing was recently awarded the launch and on-orbit support follow-on contract, under which it will continue to launch the GPS IIFs and maintain them on orbit.