Wednesday, January 18, 2023

US Space Force GPS III SV06 navigation satellite launched, GPS IIIF production underway

The sixth Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellite, designed and built by Lockheed Martin, was launched Wednesday morning and is on its way to orbit approximately 12,550 miles above Earth. The system will join the U.S. Space Force's constellation of GPS satellites.

Known as GPS III Space Vehicle 06 (GPS III SV06), the satellite was launched (video) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 7:24 a.m. EST.

About 83 minutes after liftoff, U.S. Space Force and Lockheed Martin engineers at the company's Denver Launch & Checkout Operations Center confirmed the signal acquisition of GPS III SV06 and now have the vehicle under their control.

GPS III SV06 is the 25th Military-Code satellite introduced to the constellation. The satellite will aid Space Force operators by providing positioning, navigation, and timing data to military and civil users worldwide.

"With the last GPS III satellite complete and ready to launch, production of the first GPS IIIF vehicle is underway,” said Andre Trotter, Lockheed Martin vice president for Navigation Systems.

GPS, or Global Positioning System, is a satellite-based radio navigation system that delivers standard positioning, navigation, and timing data to America's military, U.S. allies, and civil users. The satellites serve as a crucial technological foundation for internet, financial, transportation, and agricultural operations, with more than four billion users depending on the signals.

GPS III vehicles provide three times greater accuracy and eight times greater anti-jamming capability over existing satellites in the constellation.

GPS III SV06 will soon join SV01-05 in orbit. GPS III SV07-10 are completed and in storage at the company's facility waiting for the U.S. Space Force to call them up for launch.

Lockheed Martin is also designing and building the GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) for the Space Force, which will feature even more innovative capabilities than its predecessors.

GPS IIIF satellites will feature an accuracy-enhancing laser retroreflector array, a new search and rescue payload, a fully digital navigation payload, and more next-generation technology.

In November 2022, Space Systems Command announced it exercised the third production option valued at approximately $744 million for the procurement of three additional GPS IIIF satellites from Lockheed Martin, meaning the company is now contracted to build SV11-20.

Past GPS post:

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