WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force on May 27 successfully launched the first of a new generation of GPS satellites aboard a Delta 4 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

The GPS 2F-1 satellite was placed into a roughly 17,600-kilometer orbit and joins an operational constellation of 30 previous-generation GPS satellites, the Air Force press release said.

The GPS 2F satellites are more powerful than previous GPS satellites, generating more robust, jam-resistant signals, according to prime contractor Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. The satellites will also provide a third civil signal known as L5 that will be used for commercial aviation and search and rescue operations. The satellites have 12-year design lives, longer than earlier GPS craft were intended to operate.

The GPS 2F satellites are the first to rely on the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle rockets. Previous GPS satellites were launched on the smaller Delta 2 rocket, which is being phased out by the service.