The U.S. Space Force (USSF)’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) successfully transferred the second Global Positioning System III space vehicle (GPS III SV02) to Space Operations Command on March 23.
GPS III SV02, dubbed “Magellan” in honor of Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition to circumnavigate the Earth, was launched on August 22, 2019, aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Medium+ launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The satellite is now officially under the control of the Second Space Operations Squadron (2 SOPS) located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.
Lockheed Martin-built GPS III satellites deliver positioning, navigation and timing information with three times better accuracy, and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability than its predecessor. This is crucial for the warfighter, who will benefit from the increased power, accuracy and protections provided by the newer GPS III systems.
“This marks our second transfer of Satellite Control Authority for the GPS III program as we continue to modernize the GPS constellation with more capable and resilient systems.” said Col. Edward Byrne, chief of Production Corps’ Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems Division. “It’s only through the hard work, professionalism, and dedication of our entire government and industry partner team that we can successfully transition GPS III SV02 to operations.”
The GPS III spacecraft has a 15-year design life – 25 percent longer than the last generation of GPS satellites currently on-orbit. Additionally, it delivers new capabilities, such as a fourth civilian signal (L1C), designed to enable interoperability between GPS and international satellite navigation systems, such as Galileo. GPS III satellites will also bring the full capability of the Military Code (M-Code) signal, increasing anti-jam resiliency in support of the warfighter.
These continued improvements and advancements to the GPS system make it the premier space-based provider of positioning, navigation, and timing services for more than four billion users around the globe.
Lockheed Martin is under contract to develop and build up to 32 GPS III/IIIF (Follow-On) satellites for the U.S. Space Force.