The U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) Lockheed Martin-built GPS III Space Vehicle 05 satellite was encapsulated within a SpaceX payload fairing at Astrotech Space Operations Florida facility on June 9 in preparation for its upcoming launch scheduled for June 17, 2021 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
The 15-minute launch window opens 12:09 p.m., EDT. Encapsulation of the satellite within the payload fairing protects the satellite from the impact of dynamic pressure and aerodynamic heating during its harrowing journey through the Earth’s atmosphere, and supports the ability to communicate with the satellite until separation from the launch vehicle on orbit.
GPS III SV05 will join the current 31-satellite operational constellation to continue to provide the gold standard in positioning, navigation and timing services for more than four billion users worldwide.
“The GPS III program continues to make strides in modernizing the GPS constellation for the United States Space Force, maintaining the ‘gold standard’ for position, navigation and timing,” said Col. Edward Byrne, Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems division chief, “SV05 is not only the first-ever USSF satellite launched on a previously flown booster, but also is the 24th Military-Code (M-Code) satellite introduced to our constellation, the last needed to bring M-Code to full operational capability.”
The Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the U.S. Space Force’s center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the development of advanced space and launch capability and systems, global positioning systems, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.