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Schriever Sentinel

Newest GPS satellite enters service

Col. James Ross, 50th Space Wing commander, ceremoniously hands command and control of the second Global Positioning System Block IIF satellite to Lt. Col. Jennifer Grant, 2nd Space Operations Squadron commander, here Aug. 19. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dave Ahlschwede)

By Scott Prater

Schriever Sentinel

The 2nd Space Operations Squadron accepted satellite control authority of its second Global Positioning System Block IIF satellite during a brief ceremony here Aug. 19.

After launching from Cape Canaveral July 15 and following a 30-day check out, the satellite, known as SVN-63, was placed in an expanded slot in the GPS Expandable 24 constellation architecture, where it will be paired with SVN-46.

Col. Bernard Gruber, GPS director at the Space and Missile Systems Center, first transferred satellite control authority of SVN-63 to the 14th Air Force.

Col. Todd Brost, 14 AF director of operations and exercises, immediately accepted SCA and transferred it to 50th Space Wing Commander Col. James Ross.

“This was very much a team effort, from our industry partners (Boeing and Aerospace Corporation) to the SMC and the 50 SW,” Ross said.

Ross, who assumed command of the 50 SW Aug. 5, said this experience was unique because he was involved in the launch of a previous GPS satellite, SVN-62, during his time as the 45th Operations Group commander last year, and was glad to see the 45 OG has held on to that tradition with the launch of SVN-63, managing to transport it safely to orbit.

With that, Ross then delegated command and control of the vehicle to Lt. Col. Jennifer Grant, 2nd Space Operations Squadron commander.

“On behalf of the men and women of 2 SOPS, we gladly and willingly accept satellite control authority of SVN-63,” she said before signing the official transfer documents along with Maj. Jason Smesny, GPS mission director for SVN-63. “We are extremely honored to accept command and control of the second GPS Block IIF satellite. We look forward to continuing to provide our warfighters and civil users with the most accurate position, navigation and timing signal available in the history of GPS. We are proud to be the world’s gold standard.”

The Global Positioning System now has 36 satellites on orbit, 31 of which reside in operational slots set healthy to users and five satellites remaining as accessible spares. These satellites transmit digital radio signals to receivers on the ground, allowing users to calculate their time, location and velocity.

The new GPS Block IIF-2 is taking the place of SVN-24, a GPS Block IIA vehicle which was launched in 1991 and has served the constellation for more than 20 years. Capt. Frankie Reddick, 2 SOPS assistant director of operations, said 2 and 19 SOPS crews have already begun moving SVN-24 to a slot in space where it will serve as an on-orbit spare.

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