The first of a new generation of Global Positioning Systems satellites built by Lockheed Martin for the US Air Force is "talking" with engineers and operators after a successful weekend launch.
The Lockheed-built GPS III satellite Martin's facility in Jefferson County was picked up on Sunday morning on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launch was originally scheduled for December 18, but severe weather and nonspecific sensor measurements on the first stage of the rocket delayed the launch.
Lockheed Martin said the GPS III Space Vehicle 01 received orders from the company's launch and cash register and responded to it on mid Sunday. Engineers of the Air Force and the company announced that the satellite had disconnected itself from the booster rocket and that signals had been received 1
Lockheed Martin's crew in Jefferson County had a few months time. The company built NASA's Land Vehicle InSight, which landed on Mars on November 26th. And a space probe designed and built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems reached its destination on December 3, when the US's first attempt to collect samples from an asteroid and bring it back to Earth.
Centennial's United Launch Alliance launched both spacecraft.
The latest craft news, the GPS III SV01, is the first in a new generation of satellites designed to modernize the GPS constellation, Lockheed Martin said. The GPS III is three times more accurate and is up to eight times more difficult to jam than the satellites in the constellation.
"In the coming days, GPS III SV01 will use its liquid apogee engines to climb into its operational orbit at 12,550 miles above the Earth. We then send him orders to equip his solar arrays and antennas and begin testing and testing in orbit. This includes extensive signal testing with our advanced navigation payload provided by Harris Corporation, "said Johnathon Caldwell, vice president of navigation systems for Lockheed Martin, in a statement.
Although best known for widespread civilian applications, GPS has been developed by the US military, which still designs, imports, and operates the system. The Air Force controls a constellation of 31 GPS satellites from a high-security complex at Schriever Air Force Base outside Colorado Springs, according to The Associated Press.
Lockheed Martin delivered the GPS III satellite to Florida on August 20 GPS III SV01 is expected to take its place in the existing satellite constellation that provides positioning, navigation and timing services to more than 4 billion civilian commercial vehicles and military users.
The Air Force called the satellite "Vespucci" The Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.
"By this time next year, we also expect a second GPS III orbital (in), and users should receive signals from this first satellite," said Caldwell.
The satellite launched on Sunday is the first of ten GPS III satellites originally ordered by the Luftwaffe. Lockheed Martin said the Air Force had asked to launch the second satellite in 2019. The satellites three to eight are in different assembly and test stages.
In September, the Air Force selected Lockheed Martin's estimated $ 7.2 billion opportunity for the GPS III follow-on program to build up to 22 additional satellites with additional capabilities. The company said it would build up to 12 GPS III satellites.