The seventh Global Positioning System Block IIR (GPS IIR-7/SVN-54) satellite, designed and built by Lockheed Martin, has reached 10 years of successful on-orbit operations, and continues to deliver critical position, navigation and timing (PNT) signals to nearly one billion GPS users worldwide.
The satellite, launched on January 30, 2001 and declared operational on February 15, 2001, is one of 31 GPS spacecraft currently on-orbit providing vital situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military, and supporting a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions. The GPS constellation is increasing productivity in areas as diverse as farming, mining, construction, surveying, package delivery and supply chain management, while also enhancing public safety by reducing response times for emergency services. U.S. Air Force Space Command's 2nd Space Operations Squadron, based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.
As the prime contractor for the GPS IIR program, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company designed and built 21 IIR spacecraft for the Global Positioning Systems Directorate of the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. The final eight spacecraft, designated Block IIR-M, were modernized to enhance operations and navigation signal performance. The current fleet of Block IIR and IIR-M satellites within the overall GPS constellation has reached over 120 cumulative operational years on-orbit with a reliability record of better than 99.9 percent.
To meet the increasing user demands for GPS services, a Lockheed Martin-led team is building the U.S. Air Force's next generation GPS spacecraft, known as GPS III.
"The longevity and reliability of GPS IIR-7/SVN-54 is a testament to the joint government-industry team that together has built and is operating the most robust GPS constellation in history," said Joe Trench, Lockheed Martin's vice president of Navigation Systems. "As this spacecraft now begins operating beyond its design life, we look forward to delivering the next generation of GPS III spacecraft to affordably meet the growing and ever expanding military, civilian and commercial user needs now and well into the future."
Following a successful and ahead of schedule critical design review in August 2010, the GPS III team is now progressing steadily in the manufacturing phase of the program – and has completed more than half of its 59 Manufacturing Readiness Reviews (MRR).
At the December 17, 2010 Annual GPS Enterprise Review (AGER), GPS IIIA received formal approval to enter production, as well as authorization to initiate long-lead parts procurement for the third and fourth GPS IIIA spacecraft. A total of eight GPS IIIA satellites will be built, and the team is on track for first delivery in 2014.
GPS III will improve position, navigation and timing services and provide advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability. The first increment, in a planned three increments, GPS IIIA will deliver signals three times more accurate than current GPS spacecraft and provide three times more power for military users, while also enhancing the spacecraft's design life and adding a new civil signal designed to be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems.