Space Force’s 4th Lockheed-Built GPS III Satellite Begins Traverse to Orbit


The latest Lockheed Martin-built GPS III satellite for the U.S. Space Force has detached from SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and is cruising toward its intended orbit using the spacecraft's own propulsion system.

Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Thursday at 6:24 p.m. EST carrying the GPS III Space Vehicle 04, which will operate 12.5K miles above Earth, Lockheed said Thursday.

Space Force and Lockheed engineers at the company's launch and checkout operations center in Denver declared GPS III SV04's separation from the rocket 89 minutes after launch.

SV04 will serve as the Space Force's 23rd GPS space vehicle enabled with Military Code signal elements intended to prevent jamming and spoofing.

The satellite will propel itself to orbit using its liquid apogee engine over the next few days ahead of its handover of operations to Space Operations Command.

Tonya Ladwig, acting vice president for navigation systems at Lockheed, said the company seeks to rapidly field satellite technologies to support the Space Force's positioning, navigation and timing mission.

She noted that the fifth GPS III satellite is already available for launch and "just waiting to be called up." 

Lockheed announced that the third GPS III satellite has begun traversing towards its orbit in July.

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