On March 23, 2020, the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center successfully transferred the second Global Positioning System III space vehicle (GPS III SV02) to Space Operations Command.
GPS III SV02, dubbed “Magellan” in honor of Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition to circumnavigate the Earth, is now officially under the control of the Second Space Operations Squadron located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.
GPS III SV02 was launched on Aug. 22, 2019, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Medium+ launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. GPS III satellites deliver positioning, navigation and timing information with three times better accuracy, and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability than its predecessor. This is rucial for the warfighter, who will benefit from the increased power, accuracy and protections provided by the newer GPS III systems.
“This marks our second transfer of Satellite Control Authority for the GPS III program as we continue to modernize the GPS constellation with more capable and resilient systems.” said Col. Edward Byrne, chief of Production Corps’ Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems Division. “It’s only through the hard work, professionalism, and dedication of our entire government and industry partner team that we can successfully transition GPS III SV02 to operations.”
The GPS III spacecraft has a 15-year design life — 25 percent longer than the last generation of GPS satellites currently on-orbit. Additionally, it delivers new capabilities, such as a fourth civilian signal (L1C), designed to enable interoperability between GPS and international satellite navigation systems, such as Galileo. GPS III satellites will also bring the full capability of the Military Code (M-Code) signal, increasing anti-jam resiliency in support of the warfighter.
These continued improvements and advancements to the GPS system make it the premier space-based provider of positioning, navigation, and timing services for more than four billion users around the globe.
U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force’s Center of Excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch, range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.