GPS III SV05 arrives in Florida for June launch

April 22, 2021  - By
GPS III SV05, now in Florida, is shown fully integrated at Lockheed Martin's production facility in Colorado. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

GPS III SV05, now in Florida, is shown fully integrated at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Colorado. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center successfully delivered the fifth GPS III satellite to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, on April 6.

GPS III Space Vehicle (SV) 05 was transported from the Lockheed Martin facility in Waterton, Colorado, to the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, by a C-17 Globemaster III crew from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Lockheed Martin is the contractor for construction of the GPS III satellites.

Now that the satellite has arrived at the Astrotech Space Operations facility, the latest addition to the GPS constellation modernization effort will begin final testing and checkout before the launch. While at Astrotech, it will undergo final post-ship functional testing, be fueled with onboard propellant, and then be encapsulated for launch.

Once these tasks are accomplished, SV05 will be horizontally integrated with the first-ever SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle to be reflown for a National Security Space Launch (NSSL) mission.

“SV05 is the third GPS III satellite shipped to the Cape in the last 14 months and marks a key step to our larger goal of GPS constellation modernization,” said Col. Edward Byrne, SMC’s Space Production Corps Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems Division chief. “As the fourth GPS III launch campaign with SpaceX, this NSSL mission is historic both for the first reflight of a Falcon 9 rocket and for being the 24th military-code (M-code) satellite introduced to our constellation, the last needed to bring M-code to full operational capability.”

Slated to launch in June, GPS III SV05 will join the operational constellation of 31 GPS satellites, delivering enhanced performance and accuracy through a variety of improvements.

Improvements include increased signal protection, L1C signal interoperability, and the newest civilian signal, L5. As a crucial technological foundation for internet, financial, transportation and agricultural operations, GPS delivers the gold standard in positioning, navigation and timing services supporting U.S. and allied operations worldwide.

The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. SMC’s portfolio includes space launch, global positioning systems, military satellite communications, a meteorological satellite control network, range systems, space-based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.