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Cool Facts

The first GPS satellite was launched in 1978.

The current system is composed of second generation GPS satellites, called Block II.

The first Block II satellite was launched in 1989.

The Defense Department declared GPS fully operational in 1995.

When the system was first introduced, miscalculations were programmed into GPS transmissions to limit the accuracy of non-military GPS receivers. This operation was cancelled in May 2000.

There are 24 GPS satellites in orbit at this moment.

The 24 satellites cost an estimated $12 billion to build and launch.

Each satellite weighs about 1,735 lb (787 kg).

The satellites are in orbit about 12,500 mi (20,000 km) above the Earth.

A satellite takes 12 hours to orbit the Earth once.

The Russians have a system identical to the U.S. system called GLONASS.