New AF satellites offer more precise positioning capability

The Air Force’s next generation of GPS satellites recently got one step closer to completion with the successful acoustic environmental testing of GPS III SV02. The satellite is the second of 10 satellites that will make up the GPS III satellite constellation.

The acoustic environmental test replicated the launch conditions of the satellite by exposing it to 140 decibels of sound in a specialized test chamber. The test is designed to shake loose any components of the satellite that aren’t properly attached. This fall, SV02 will complete thermal vacuum testing which will replicate the high and low temperatures experienced during orbit. Upon successful completion of the tests, SV02 will be delivered to the Air Force in early 2018.

The GPS III satellite constellation seeks to improve upon a number of qualities found in GPS II. In addition to three times better positioning accuracy, GPS III satellites have an extended life of 15 years over the 12 years of GPS II satellites. They also feature additional anti-jamming capabilities.

GPS III satellites are built using a modular design to enable the inclusion of up-to-date technologies and additional missions. A Lockheed Martin spokesperson confirmed new, updated components can be added to satellites while on the production line even if previous iterations of the satellites don’t include them. This modular design will also allow for specialized military and civilian payloads. The first GPS III satellite is currently slated for launch in spring of 2018.

About the Author

Adin Dobkin is a freelance contributor to Defense Systems.

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