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
#DYK: The #USAF's real #CaptainMarvel trained @brielarson for her role as Capt. Marvel. Learn more about Brig Gener… https://t.co/hZNbSzuvNS
Calling all Hoosiers! We're coming to #Indianapolis May 18-20 as part of our new community outreach program -… https://t.co/ywj6LXACAW
.@SecAFOfficial was interviewed by #JojoScienceShow at last week's @Andrews_JBA's #STEM event which featured more t… https://t.co/CwAjk4Foxq
RT @SecAFOfficial: The @USAirForce will now reimburse qualifying licensure & recertification fees incurred during PCS/PCAs up to $500 for s…
.@SJAFB spouse wins #AirForce level award for connecting the team Seymour volunteer to the community learn more:… https://t.co/TtWbSKNs87
#Airmen from across @HQUSAFEPA gather together with sister services and @NATO members to gain critical skills that… https://t.co/vk81NGuJLa
.@53rdWRS #HurricaneHunters and @NWSNHC teams participated in a Hurricane Awareness Tour, gaining safety knowledge… https://t.co/DDc4P7y71n
#DYK, the #AirForce has two deployable labs. These Rapid Assistance Support for Calibration units or RASCALS have b… https://t.co/DhKfKN8bDN
An #F15 Strike Eagle, assigned to the @48FighterWing, receives fuel from a 351st Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stra… https://t.co/hRpC1FFJm0
A KC-46 Pegasus assigned to the @22ARW performs a flyover during an Heritage to Horizons concert at the #AirForce M… https://t.co/Iecglwbxnb
.@AFResearchLab scientists and engineers recently visited universities throughout Israel to learn about their techn… https://t.co/Tzlc3XYd9s
.@ConorDaly22 won’t be the only one representing the #USAF in #Indianapolis this weekend! We're coming to… https://t.co/M6Ni3ClXTw
.@USArmy ground liaison officers assist intel #Airmen, ensuring globally networked sites work together to provide w… https://t.co/qKYKKZ0ptm
RT @JoJoScienceShow: I had fun time doing a science experiment with the Secretary of the Air Force @secafofficial and General Wilson at the…
Sometimes it takes a different perspective to discover a new way of thinking. @HQ_AFMC's Continued Process Improvem… https://t.co/lBMmAyyLoy
RT @SecAFOfficial: When I was visiting Aviano recently, the issue of spouse employment overseas came up and things we might be able to do t…
A1C Giovanni Wilson, @TeamEglin Honor Guard, holds the bugle during the 50th Annual Explosive Ordnance Disposal mem… https://t.co/E0lzJJ1hdd
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the groundbreaking ceremony. https://t.co/gqrfhHrkPH
Over 900 #USAF #JROTC cadets participated in the National High Scholl Drill Team Competition, bringing home 84 of t… https://t.co/p9HgxikMhu