Launching Soon: What to Expect from the New GPS III Satellites
The Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) industry is set to hit several milestones before the year ends, as the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology prepares to launch its newest satellite.
The first GPS III satellite, the Satellite Vehicle 01 (SV01) will be integrated with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will take it to space in December. Systems like coupled GNSS and inertial simulators stand to become even more invaluable to the military, aerospace industry, and other organizations once the satellite takes its place in the GPS constellation.
Better Signal Integrity and Other Improvements
The GPS III SV01 is the first of 10 new satellites that Lockheed Martin designed and made for the US Air Force. It’s built to last up to 15 years and has no selective availability. Apart from having a different design from its predecessors, the GPS III SV01 features a mostly digital navigational payload and greater signal reliability.
It will have threefold higher GPS signal accuracy rates while its M-code signal for the military will have eight times greater anti-jamming capabilities. Rival military agencies will have a harder time disrupting GPS signal once the satellite is up.
The satellite will be the first to use the L1C, or the fourth civilian GPS signal, as well. The L1C will make it possible for the GPS III SV01 to be used with other international GNSS, such as the European Union’s Galileo and China’s Beidou.
Building upon the Legacy
Once up in space, the GPS III SV01 will be the 32nd operational GPS satellite. Its launch will mark the end of an era for the GPS II satellites, 60% of which were also designed and built by Lockheed Martin.
The company has submitted a proposal for the GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) program as early as April. The program plans to launch 22 new satellites which will further improve on the GPS III satellites. Lockheed’s proposal for the GPS IIIF satellites includes improved anti-jamming capabilities, a search and rescue payload, and digital navigation payload.
Modernizing the GPS Constellation
The second of Lockheed Martin’s GPS III satellites was already built and comprehensively tested and deemed launch-ready. The US Air Force declared the GPS III SV02 “Available for Launch” earlier this year and is expected to follow the GPS III SV01 in space next year.
The third and fourth GPS III satellites are nearly complete, too. The GPS III SV03 has just finished several tests and simulations while the GPS III SV04 will soon start environmental testing. Experts at Lockheed Martin are optimistic the GPS III SV03 will receive its “Available for Launch” declaration early next year.
GPS has become an indispensable part of life — not just for the military and aerospace industry, but also for civilians. The GPS III SVO1 will allow civilians across the globe to connect with more GPS satellites and the GNSS constellations of other countries, giving them more accurate location pinpointing and fewer signal delays.
Contact us today for more information about simulators for GNSS, GPS, and Inertial Navigation Systems.