By Stephen Brady | Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 2nd Space Operations Squadron, part of Space Delta 8 headquartered at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, operationally accepted GPS III Space Vehicle 05, the newest satellite in its modernized Global Positioning System constellation June 29, 2021. The satellite enables enhanced worldwide Military Code (M-code) coverage.
Operational acceptance occurs when the satellite is handed from the acquisition community, which purchased the satellite and contracted for its launch, to the operational squadron to execute global operations.
The 2nd SOPS performs the command and control mission for the GPS constellation for both military and civil users. The satellite is part of the U.S. Space Force’s modernization priorities.
“The capabilities this satellite provides are exactly what we need to protect the interests of the United States in, from, and to space, and to enable Joint terrestrial and space operations,” said U.S. Space Force Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, Space Operations Command commander. “We must continue to modernize our existing space architectures with new technologies to provide our warfighters with uninterrupted access to the information they need, when they need it.”
“We are very excited because this new block III satellite completes our worldwide (military-code) coverage,” said U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Michael Schriever, 2nd SOPS commander. “Now we will be able to broadcast the military signal globally in accordance with interface compliance requirements which our team, along with our 19 SOPS counterparts, have been working around the clock to achieve.”
GPS III Space Vehicle 05 is the latest next-generation GPS satellite. It is the 24th M-Code signal-enabled GPS space vehicle on orbit, completing the constellation’s baseline requirement to provide military forces a more-secure, harder-to-jam and spoof GPS signal. GPS III satellites provide significant capability advancements over earlier-designed GPS satellites on orbit, including three times better accuracy; up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities; and a new L1C civil signal, which is compatible with international global navigation satellite systems, to improve civilian user connectivity.
The Lockheed Martin-built satellite, named “Neil Armstrong” after the famous American astronaut, launched June 17, 2021, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. The satellite separated from its SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket about 90 minutes into its flight, and then spent the next several days using an onboard rocket to reach its final orbit approximately 12,500 miles above Earth.
Globally, more than four billion military, civil and commercial users depend on GPS’s positioning, navigation and timing signals for aviation, telecommunication, banking, farming and more.