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

Twitter
The Impact of Sharing Stories of Recovery and Resiliency Lt Col Katharine McGregor did not know much about the… https://t.co/17VibuxnTc
Twitter
Many search for years to find their true passion in life. For Staff Sgt. Camrin Northrop, a firefighter for both th… https://t.co/QcNrBXPCV0
Twitter
From their homes to yours, check out the @AirNatlGuard Band of the South! #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/yb7GhZZ5A3
Twitter
Reintegration will be a deliberate & phased approach to protect Airmen & Space Professionals. Learn to maintain rea… https://t.co/egQSAV5uRB
Twitter
The MQ-1B Predator is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft used for i… https://t.co/livZYQyXnH
Twitter
Dr. Quinton Sasnett, a faculty member at Air University, talks about the university's civilian associates degree pr… https://t.co/0BgoCiGCUy
Twitter
Improving mental health through expressive writing. @KadenaAirBase https://t.co/zVoYTQQl5z
Twitter
Medical pros at Kadena Air Base, 3-D printed naso-pharyngeal swabs to test potential #COVID19 patients. The dental… https://t.co/h8q1HgLjRZ
Twitter
The MC-12W is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is providing intelligen… https://t.co/st7WRJLDHB
Twitter
Know what resources, treatments & therapies are available for invisible wounds. https://t.co/H2A7fYb8s3
Twitter
“The Total Force team at Eielson plays a pivotal role that extends throughout Alaska and projects into the Arctic.”… https://t.co/7nSYEtYWHj
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: 🙌🎉 Congrats to the @usairforce's newest pilots as Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-18 graduates today at @…
Twitter
.@JointBasePHH Airmen participate in a ramp drop from a C-17 Globemaster III. The 25th Air Support Ops Squadron is… https://t.co/AZVT6Qzmgv
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: It is a pleasure to be in #Alaska to see #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals in action! Whether it’s F-35s & F-22s protectin…
Twitter
RT @EielsonAirForce: When @SecAFOfficial comes to visit, we show off the 'cool stuff' https://t.co/sGCSnVOOXg
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: A career worth a thousand words: Colonel Campbell reflects on career in aviation - https://t.co/atNAeYOoMI (Story by @Dobb
Twitter
The Air Force will host the Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower conference virtually August 24–27.… https://t.co/9pRjj6U1lp
Twitter
A Rocket Propelled Grenade was launched at a Dyess AFB C-130J in September 2019. The Airmen had to respond quickly! https://t.co/fgfNkCjA4a
Twitter
#DYK The UH-1N has a crew of three (pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer) and is capable of flight in instrument and… https://t.co/Qcj74Tk4ra
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,252,152
Follow Us