As the first Lockheed Martin-built (NYSE: LMT) GPS III satellite prepares to ship to the launch pad, the U.S. Air Force has declared that the second GPS III satellite is complete, fully tested and ready to launch.
The Air Force’s “Available for Launch” declaration is the final acceptance of Lockheed Martin’s second GPS III Space Vehicle (GPS III SV02) – declaring it technically sound and ready to launch. GPS III SV02 will bring new capabilities to U.S. and allied military forces, and a new civil signal that will improve future connectivity worldwide for commercial and civilian users.
GPS III SV02 now awaits official call up for launch in Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility clean room in Denver. In June, the Air Force officially called up its first GPS III satellite for launch.
“The first GPS III satellite, GPS III SV01, was declared ‘Available for Launch’ in September 2017. It is now being prepared for shipment to Cape Canaveral, Florida for a launch before the end of the year,” said Johnathon Caldwell, Lockheed Martin’s program manager for Navigation Systems. “With two GPS III satellites now ready for launch, and the third GPS III expected to be ready by early next year, we’re building strong momentum. These satellites will soon begin modernizing the current GPS constellation with new capabilities and more advanced technology.”
GPS III will be the most powerful GPS satellite ever on orbit. GPS III will have three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities. GPS III’s new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite to be interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems.
Lockheed Martin is now in full production on ten GPS III satellites at its GPS III Processing Facility near Denver.
In June, GPS III SV03 completed Thermal Vacuum testing, strenuous environmental trials simulating operations in the harshest space environments. In May, the antenna deck was added to GPS III SV04, fully integrating it into a complete satellite ready to begin environmental testing.
Right behind GPS III SV04 on the production line, the fifth, sixth and seventh GPS III satellites are in component build-up. The fifth satellite already has its navigation payload and is expected to be fully assembled later this summer. To date, more than 90 percent of parts and materials for all 10 satellites under contract have been received.
In April, the company submitted a proposal to the government to build up to 22 additional GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) satellites which would bring even further enhanced capabilities to the GPS constellation’s more than four billion users.