Last year, the Air Force said it would dock Boeing $21.4 million in performance-based fees for cost overruns and delays on the GPS satellite contracts. The program ran at least $266 million over budget and had three years of delays, the Air Force said. In August, Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. said they were rivals for the first phase of a military contract worth up to $2billion to build an even newer generation of GPS satellites known as block III. With these new satellites, the Air Force plans to replace 24 of 32 satellites in orbit. That contract’s first phase includes eight satellites to be delivered by 2013. The deal will be awarded by year’s end. The rate of technological advances in satellites is akin to that of personal computers, defense analyst Paul Nisbet said. And this process of constantly upgrading the GPS constellation is likely to continue far into the future, he said. “It certainly hasn’t shown any sign of abating any more than (advancements for) our computers have or TVs or what have you,” said Nisbet, of JSA Research Inc. in Newport, R.I. For the first IIF satellite, Boeing’s technicians are preparing it for critical environmental tests to gauge its durability for launch and orbit. Technicians are attaching the satellite’s solar panels to include them in the tests. Each IIF satellite will complete acoustic stress tests using high-powered speakers to determine whether the spacecraft can tolerate the high sound pressure levels during launches; mechanical tests similar to a separation test to make sure it disconnects cleanly from the launch vehicle; tests of the satellite’s deployable mechanisms such as the solar wings and the antenna; and thermal vacuum testing that exposes the satellite to a vacuum and extreme temperatures found in space. firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By Muhammed El-Hasan STAFF WRITER Boeing Co. has completed assembly of the first in a new version of global positioning satellites, the firm said Wednesday. It is the first of 12 so-called block IIF satellites that Boeing will build at the company’s Satellite Development Center in El Segundo. The satellites are meant for both military and civilian navigation. The 3,758-pound satellites, commissioned by the Air Force, will provide new and improved capabilities to the U.S. government’s GPS constellation including full onboard encrypted military code, greater signal power and a longer design life, Boeing said. In addition, the satellite’s payload will include new hardware that improves signals for civil aviation. Boeing has won contracts that total about $2.5 billion to build these 12 IIF satellites and the ground stations that control the platform. Boeing’s completion of the first satellite’s assembly, which included integration of all flight hardware, puts the company “firmly on track” to deliver the satellite for its launch next year, said Howard Chambers, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, in a statement.