Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (AFSMC) delivered the second Lockheed Martin [LMT]-made GPS III space vehicle March 19 to Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida, ahead of an expected July launch, the center said March 20.
The satellite, dubbed “Magellan” in honor of the 16th century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, was transported from Lockheed Martin’s facility in Waterton, Colorado, to the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, via a C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, AFSMC said in a statement.
Magellan will be launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV launch vehicle. ULA is a joint launch venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing [BA]. It will be the final payload to ride on the Delta IV “Medium-plus” specific configuration, the center noted.
Twenty-eight Delta IV Medium rockets have flown to date, 14 of which have been in the “Medium-plus” or “4,2” configuration, said Heather McFarland, ULA spokeswoman in an email. The alliance’s other space launch vehicles as well as the forthcoming Vulcan Centaur rocket will be able to meet the Air Force’s future launch needs, she added.
“As we prepare to launch this second GPS III satellite, we acknowledge a major transition of the GPS III program into a production program.” said Air Force Col. Steve Whitney, director of the GPS Directorate at AFSMC. “Having successfully launched our ‘Satellite of Firsts,’ Vespucci, last December; we now look forward to a more regular pace of launches with this one and several more just on the horizon, as we continue to uphold the Gold Standard in space-based position, navigation, and timing.”
The inaugural GPS III space vehicle “Vespucci” launched aboard a Space X Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Dec. 23, 2018. Once on orbit, the second GPS III satellite will join the 31 operational systems in the GPS constellation.
“The shipment of this second GPS III satellite is once again an excellent representation of the collaborative effort and increasing efficiencies of SMC’s push towards rapid acquisitions and operations of space technologies,” said Lt. Gen John F. Thompson, SMC commander and Air Force program executive officer for space.