HomeNewsArticle Display

First GPS III satellite successfully launched

GPS III Launch

GPS III Satellite, the newest generation of GPS satellites, brings new capabilities to users, including three times greater accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities. (Courtesy graphic)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- The Air Force and its mission partners successfully launched the first Global Positioning Systems III satellite Dec. 23 from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The Lockheed Martin-built satellitewas carried to orbit aboard a Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, Falcon 9 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle. The satellite is known as “Vespucci,” in honor of Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer for whom the Americas were named.

“Launch is always a monumental event, and especially so since this is the first GPS satellite of its generation launched on SpaceX’s first National Security Space mission. As more GPS III satellites join the constellation, it will bring better service at a lower cost to a technology that is now fully woven into the fabric of any modern civilization,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force program executive officer for space. “It keeps GPS the gold standard for positioning, navigation, and timing information, giving assured access when and where it matters. This event was a capstone, but it doesn’t mean we’re done. We’re going to run a series of procedures for checkout and test to ensure everything on Vespucci functions as it was designed.”

GPS III’s “Vespucci” separated from its upper stage approximately two hours after launch. Engineers and operators at Lockheed Martin’s Waterton facility will now begin on-orbit checkout and tests which are estimated to complete in six months. Operational use is expected to begin in about a year.

“Today’s launch could not have succeeded without the teamwork of dedicated professionals. I’m extremely proud of their accomplishment.” stated Col. Steve Whitney, GPS Directorate director. “Today’s launch is the beginning of the GPS III era, bringing greater capabilities for our military and civilian users worldwide.”

Vespucci will be vectored to augment the current GPS constellation comprised of 31 operational spacecraft. GPS satellites operate in medium earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 12,550 miles in six planes. Each satellite circles the earth twice per day. GPS provides the “gold standard” of position, navigation and timing services for billions of users worldwide. GPS III, the newest generation of GPS satellites, brings new capabilities to users, including three times greater accuracy, and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities.

“The first GPS III launch marks a significant milestone for the GPS constellation as well as our partnership with SpaceX,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi, SMC Launch Enterprise director. “This launch demonstrated the successful teamwork and cooperation amongst all mission partners to deliver the capabilities our warfighter demands. I’m proud of my team and look forward to our additional National Security Space missions with SpaceX.”

The GPS III Vespucci team is led by the SMC’s Global Positioning Systems Directorate, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corporation is the prime satellite vehicle contractor. The launch was led by Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Directorate, and was on the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral AFS. Air Force Space Command’s 50th Space Wing and 2nd Space Operations Squadron operate the GPS constellation from Schriever AFB, Colorado.

SMC is the Air Force's center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.

As the U.S. enters a new era with the declaration of space as a warfighting domain, SMC is undergoing re-architecting as part of “SMC 2.0” efforts which will manage other significant U.S. acquisition agility initiatives that seek to build new partnerships with industry, allies, and Defense Department partners, in order to drive innovation within the space enterprise and speed the delivery of new capabilities to warfighters.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
Riveting story! Learn more about Ms. Mae Krier, a #WorldWarII pioneer who joined legions of other Rosies in the wor… https://t.co/0QUBOzh4Rr
RT @HollomanAFB: Happy #NationalPuppyDay! Our #MilitaryWorkingDogs protect and defend us each and everyday. Check out these #adorable photo…
RT @AirForceMag: HIT THE BOOKS: Check out a non-exhaustive list of Air Force Chief of Staff @GenDaveGoldfein's reading recommendations from…
Some of us are women, but we are all Airmen! #WomensHistoryMonth https://t.co/pcBtWWIiE6
.@GenDaveGoldfein: "Celebration of #diversity and making sure we understand the flesh colored band aids is not abou… https://t.co/iUqNbSpCPB
.@RAFMildenhall #KC135 crew strengthened relationship with Romanian #AirForce through air refueling training. For m… https://t.co/8dGvm2HQwC
RT @SecAFOfficial: Mother nature can’t beat the 55th Wing! We will recover @Offutt_AFB from the devastating flood. Amazing American 🇺🇸 spir…
Today the #AirForce announced a new Infrastructure Investment Strategy following a yearlong review that brings a ne… https://t.co/i1yDRQkaPl
RT @Offutt_AFB: As the water has begun to recede, Team Offutt is in full recovery mode. https://t.co/6QPZ96UNZY
RT @SecAFOfficial: Thanks to Iowa leaders who just signed a bill to recognize out of state licenses for our military spouses! @SenJoniErnst
RT @SecAFOfficial: This will make a difference on our bases for decades to come...getting more out of every dollar we spend on #infrastruct
See how our aircraft maintainers keep our #F15s safe and mission ready! @142ndFW https://t.co/H6CrSoCCIg
RT @NASA: During today's spacewalk, we'll be taking questions about our @NASA_Astronauts' excursion outside of the @Space_Station. Ask ques…
RT @US_Stratcom: Global #StrategicDeterrence! Integrating #B52s from @US_EUCOM & @INDOPACOM to conduct simultaneous theater familiarization…
The #KC135 Stratotanker nose art "Black Jack" dates back to the #BloodyHundredth's battle-hardened days of… https://t.co/43zMmRWnsP
Whether our aircraft are taking off, landing or in need of assistance, air traffic controller #Airmen are active ye… https://t.co/eBlrhUI7mQ
#WeCanDoIt! The #USAF wishes a #HappyBirthday to one of the original “Rosie the Riveters,” Ms. Mae Krier, who turne… https://t.co/n24xC5NClI
RT @Offutt_AFB: A 1,000 yr flood wasn’t enough to stop our professionals from the flying mission. Projecting global combat airpower is neve…
Are you fueled for the day? #USAF #F15E Strike Eagle refuels from a 908th Expeditionary Aerial Refueling Squadron… https://t.co/SXIXjZa8pd
The #AFIT kicked off its #centennial anniversary celebration, recognizing how the men and women who study at AFIT t… https://t.co/S8x9Qn6GH3