SpaceX launches GPS satellite to provide PNT services

June 18, 2021  - By

SpaceX launched into orbit for the U.S. Space Force the fifth GPS III satellite (SV05) on June 17.

Photo: U.S. Space Force

Photo: U.S. Space Force

GPS III SV05 eventually will replace one of the legacy GPS IIR satellites. Once GPS III SV05 is operational, about 16% of the 31-satellite constellation will be modernized with GPS III’s new capabilities.

M-Code Requirement Met

GPS III SV05 is the 24th M-code satellite on orbit, completing the constellation’s baseline requirement to provide U.S. military forces a more-secure, harder-to-jam and spoof GPS signal.

GPS III SV05 is the fifth Lockheed Martin-built, next-generation GPS III space vehicle. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is the first U.S. Space Force mission to reuse a previously-flown booster, the company said.

The U.S. Space Force contracted Lockheed Martin to design and build GPS III/GPS IIIF satellites to help modernize today’s GPS satellite constellation with new technology and advanced capabilities. Lockheed Martin said the GPS III provides three-times greater accuracy, eight times improved anti-jamming capability for U.S. military forces; a new L1C civil signal to the constellation that is compatible with other GNSS; and a new modular design that allows new technology and capabilities to be added in the future to better address changing mission needs and emerging threats.

Future GPS III Satellites

GPS III Space Vehicles 06, 07 and 08 already are complete and waiting to be called up for their launch dates, which are to be determined.

In addition, GPS III SV09 was core-mated, meaning it reached a major production milestone in which two major satellite components — the mission module and the propulsion core — are paired to form one space vehicle. The GPS III SV10 currently is in the component build up stage.

Lockheed Martin has been contracted to design and build up to 22 additional GPS III Follow On – or GPS IIIF – satellites (SV11-32), with even more capabilities. Contract options for the first four GPS IIIFs, SV11-14, have been exercised so far.

Photo: Lockheed Martin

The U.S. Space Force contracted Lockheed Martin to design and build GPS III/GPS IIIF to help modernize today’s GPS satellite constellation. Photo: Lockheed Martin

About the Author: Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is an award-winning writer, editor and marketer. She has more than 30 years of experience editing and writing for technical print publications and 15 years of experience editing and writing for e-newsletters and websites.