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U.S. Air Force hopes to launch GPS satellite tonight [Updated]

May 24, 2010 |  6:15 pm

The U.S. Air Force is hoping the fourth time will be the charm to launch its latest global positioning system satellite into orbit.

The GPS satellite, which was manufactured by Boeing Co. in El Segundo, has been sitting on a launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla., since Friday, awaiting blast-off.  Earlier attempts to launch atop a Delta IV rocket were scrubbed because of technical issues and inclement weather.

The Air Force will try again today at 11:13 p.m. Eastern time.

It will be webcast from Delta IV's United Launch Alliance’s website.

GPS, a constellation of 24 satellites with six backups, will be replaced one by one over the next decade. When all 30 new satellites are placed in orbit, the system is expected to be much more precise, capable of pinpointing someone’s location within three feet, compared with a margin of error of 20 feet or more today.

 An in-depth article on GPS and the upgrade appeared Sunday in The Times' Business section.

[Updated May 25, 12:10 p.m.] The launch has been postponed to May 27th at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

-- W.J. Hennigan