The U.S. Space Force (USSF)’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron decommissioned the second to last GPS Block IIA satellite, Satellite Vehicle Number-36 (SVN-36), Jan. 27.
The GPS SVN-36 satellite (also known as USA-100, GPS IIA-15, and GPS II-24) was launched atop a Delta II carrier rocket from Launch Complex 17A at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on March 10, 1994. The navigation satellite forms part of the American Global Positioning System (GPS) and was the fifteenth of nineteen Block IIA GPS satellites to be launched.
The USA-100 satellite exceeded its design life of approximately seven years, serving operationally for nearly 26 years. It was in an orbit with a perigee of 12,419 miles, an apogee of 12,623 miles, a period of 716.69 minutes, and 54.9 degrees of inclination to the equator.
Capt. Collin Dart, 2nd SOPS assistant flight commander of GPS mission engineering, said the disposal of SVN-36 will allow for newer GPS III satellite vehicles to take its place.
“The main reason it was decommissioned was because, at this time, we’re accepting a lot of the new generation GPS IIIs,” he said. “We’re trying to open up the constellation to accept more of those new vehicles.”
First Lt. Kristina Brandes, 2nd SOPS chief GPS sub-systems analyst, credited maintenance for exceeding its design life.
“The disposal of SVN-36 won’t have an effect on any holes or signal outages,” she said. “We still maintain 31 operational satellites and 35 total satellites in our constellation. I think it’s really awesome that Airmen have been able to maintain this entire constellation and push past the boundary of its design life,” said Brandes.
The decommissioning of the final GPS Block IIA satellite is scheduled to happen later this year.