US Space Systems Command declares GPS III satellites ready for launch

The US Space Force’s Space Systems Command has recently declared the eighth GPS III satellite as being available for launch, the third such vehicle within the programme to reach the status within the past three months.

In an August 26 release, system manufacturer Lockheed Martin said that GPS III SV06, SV07, and SV08 are now awaiting official call up for launch in the company’s GPS III Processing Facility in Waterton, Colorado.

Launch of a GPS III satellite in 2020
A Falcon 9 GPS III rocket successfully launching from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in June 2020. US Space Force/Airman Thomas Sjoberg

“SV06, SV07, and SV08 AFL milestones in just three months prove that GPS III production continues to benefit from efficiencies with each satellite delivery,” said Col Edward Byrne, chief of SSC’s Space Production Corps’ Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems Division. 

The first of the three recently completed satellites, SV06, is scheduled to launch in 2022 and will join the operational constellation of 31 GPS satellites. GPS III satellites deliver enhanced performance and accuracy through a variety of improvements, including increased signal protection and improved accuracy.

GPS III also expands the civilian L5 signal, dubbed the “safety-of-life” signal, currently broadcast by the 12 GPS IIF satellites, but not yet operational, and delivers a new L1C signal designed to grant interoperability to similar international space-based position, navigation and timing systems around the world.