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Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Satellite Encapsulated for Launch This Month

By | December 12, 2018
Lockheed Martin's GPS III satellite prepares for encapsulation before launch. Photo: Lockheed Martin

The U.S. Air Force’s first Lockheed Martin-built GPS III satellite prepares for encapsulation before launch

The U.S. Air Force‘s first Lockheed Martin-built GPS III satellite is now encapsulated for its planned Dec. 18 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. GPS III Space Vehicle 01 (GPS III SV01) underwent pre-launch processing, fueling, and encapsulation at Astrotech Space Operations. During encapsulation, GPS III SV01 was sealed in its launch fairing, an aerodynamic, nose-cone shell that protects the satellite during launch. In the coming days, the fairing-enclosed satellite will be mounted to the rocket as launch preparations continue.

GPS III SV01 is the first of a new design of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite, which aims to help the Air Force modernize today’s GPS constellation with new technology and capabilities. According to the release, GPS III has three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities. Spacecraft life will extend to 15 years, 25 percent longer than any of the GPS satellites on-orbit today. GPS III’s new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite broadcasting a compatible signal with other international global navigation satellite systems, like Galileo, improving connectivity for civilian users.

“The world is dependent on GPS. More than four billion military, commercial and civilian users connect with signals generated by GPS satellites every day,” said Lockheed Martin Vice President for Navigation Systems Johnathon Caldwell. “The launch of GPS III SV01 will be the first step in modernizing the Air Force’s GPS constellation with the most powerful and resilient GPS satellites ever designed and built.”