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GPS III Satellite Responding To Commands, Under Self-Propulsion

First GPS III Satellite Successfully Completes On-Orbit Testing

The U.S. Air Force's second next-generation GPS III satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, is responding to commands, under control and now using its own internal propulsion system to get to orbit following its successful launch Thursday morning.

At about 11:01 a.m. ET, Air Force and Lockheed Martin engineers at Lockheed Martin's Launch & Checkout Facility near Denver declared they had full control of GPS III Space Vehicle 02 (GPS III SV02) shortly after the satellite's separation from its United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket booster. The satellite, nicknamed "Magellan" by the Air Force, began its rocket ride to space with a 9:06 a.m. ET launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

GPS III SV02 is now climbing towards its operational orbit about 12,550 miles above the earth under the power of its own Liquid Apogee engines. Engineers at Lockheed Martin Space's Waterton, Colorado facility are commanding the satellite using elements of the GPS Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) Block 0.

"GPS III SV02 is receiving and responding to commands just as planned. In the days ahead, we'll finish orbit raising to our operational slot and then send the satellite commands telling it to to deploy its solar arrays and antennas," said Johnathon Caldwell, Lockheed Martin Space's vice president for Navigation Systems. "Once we are set up, we'll begin on-orbit checkout and tests, including extensive signals testing with our advanced navigation payload."

GPS III SV02 is the second GPS III satellite designed and built by Lockheed Martin to help the Air Force modernize today's Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation with new technology and capabilities. GPS III satellites provide 3x greater accuracy and up to 8x improved anti-jamming capabilities. GPS III also provides a new L1C civil signal, compatible with other international global navigation satellite systems, like Europe's Galileo.

GPS III SV02 will be the second GPS III satellite in orbit and the second GPS III satellite now being commanded from Lockheed Martin Space's facility.

On December 23, 2018, the Air Force launched the first GPS III satellite. Nicknamed "Vespucci," GPS III SV01 underwent months of checkout and thorough testing of its advanced, new navigation payload provided by Harris Corporation.

"GPS III SV01's performance exceeded expectations during testing," Caldwell said. "On July 12, we officially completed all On Orbit Check Out & Test activities. We are excited to see this satellite move to the next phase and perform in an operational environment."

That's expected to happen later this year once the first satellite is handed over to the Air Force.

(Source: Lockheed Martin news release)

FMI: www.lockheedmartin.com

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