GPS III Update: First Satellite Ready for Testing

April 14, 2015  - By
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Report from the 31st Space Symposium

Don Jewell

Don Jewell

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — I had the pleasure of having an early breakfast on this beautiful Colorado morning with Mark Stewart, VP and program manager at Lockheed Martin in Denver for the GPS III program. Mark was very upbeat, a normal state for him actually, and stated that GPS III SV1 was fully integrated — payload, bus and propulsion segments — on April 7, and “all is proceeding according to plan.”

“SV1 is ready to begin environmental testing at the vehicle level and there are no liens going forward,” Mark said. “There are no current issues or concerns.”

Currently, the schedule calls for SV1, per Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) mandate (read that as Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves) to process through acoustic testing to simulate the acoustics of launch and early orbit maneuvers. Then the complete vehicle will endure a rigorous thermal vacuum testing procedure that should be completed by this summer (2015).

Barring any major anomalies, I am still predicting that SV1 will be through tests by the end of this calendar year. That is not a LMCO prediction as much as it is mine. With that schedule intact, SV1 should be ready for launch by the first quarter of the calendar year 2016. Great news. I will have photos of the mated segments, which make up GPS III SV1, as soon as they are cleared for release. More later.

About the Author:


Don Jewell served 30 years in the United States Air Force, as an aviator and a space subject-matter expert. Don’s involvement with GPS and other critical space systems began with their inception, either as a test system evaluator or user. He served two command assignments at Schriever AFB, the home of GPS, and retired as Deputy Chief Scientist for Air Force Space Command. Don also served as a Politico Military Affairs Officer during the Reagan administration, working with 32 foreign embassies and serving as a Foreign Disclosure Officer making critical export control decisions concerning sophisticated military hardware and software. After retiring from the USAF, Don served seven years as the senior space marketer and subject-matter expert for two of the largest government contractors dealing in space software and hardware. Don currently serves on two independent GPS review teams he helped found, and on three independent assessment teams at the Institute for Defense Analyses, dealing with critical issues for the U.S. government. Don has served on numerous Air Force and Defense Scientific Advisory Boards. He writes and speaks extensively on technical issues concerning the U.S. government. Don earned his Bachelor’s degree and MBA; the Ph.D. is in progress.

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