The nation’s third next-generation GPS III satellite – and the first delivered by Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) to the new U.S. Space Force -- has arrived in Florida for an expected April launch.
On Feb. 5, the third Lockheed Martin-built GPS III space vehicle (GPS III SV03) was shipped to Cape Canaveral from the company’s GPS III Processing Facility near Denver aboard a massive Air Force C-17 aircraft traveling from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. In keeping with its tradition of nicknaming satellites after famous explorers, the GPS III team nicknamed GPS III SV03 “Columbus” after the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus.
GPS III SV03 is the latest of up to 32 next-generation GPS III/GPS III Follow-On (GPS IIIF) satellites Lockheed Martin has designed and is building to help the Space Force modernize today’s GPS constellation with new technology and capabilities.
“Every day, more than four billion civil, commercial and military users rely on the Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services provided by 31 GPS satellites launched since 1997,” said Tonya Ladwig, Lockheed Martin’s Program Manager for GPS III. “We are excited to help the Space Force refresh the constellation to ensure U.S. and allied forces always have the best technology and that the U.S. Global Positioning System remains the gold standard for PNT.”
GPS III is the most powerful and resilient GPS satellite ever put on orbit. Developed with an entirely new design for U.S. and allied forces, GPS III has three times greater accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities over any previous GPS satellites in the constellation. GPS III is also the first GPS satellite to broadcast the new L1C civil signal, which is shared by other international global navigation satellite systems, like Galileo, to improve future connectivity worldwide for commercial and civilian users.
GPS III was intentionally designed to evolve with new technology and changing mission needs. The satellite’s evolutionary modular design will allow new "GPS IIIF" capabilities to start being added at the 11th satellite. These will include a fully digital navigation payload, a Regional Military Protection capability, an accuracy-enhancing Laser Retroreflector Array, and a Search & Rescue payload.
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