WASHINGTON — The third satellite of the GPS 3 constellation arrived Feb. 5 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, where it will undergo final testing and checkout before its scheduled launch in April aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The GPS 3 satellite was flown from Lockheed Martin’s assembly line in Colorado aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft.
In a news release on Friday, the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center said the next steps are to prepare the GPS 3 SV-3 for propellant loading and fairing encapsulation before it’s horizontally integrated with a Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
“The delivery of SV03 marks the start of our second GPS 3 launch campaign on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and brings us another step closer in advancing the GPS constellation with more capable satellites,” said Col. Edward Byrne, chief of SMC production corps’ medium Earth orbit space systems division.
The April launch will be SpaceX’s second GPS 3 mission (the first one launched in December 2018) and its second launch awarded under the National Security Space Launch program. The company delivered a new Falcon 9 Block 5 booster for this mission.
In keeping with a tradition of nicknaming satellites after famous explorers, the GPS 3 SV03 was named Columbus after the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus.
Lockheed Martin is under contract to build up to 32 GPS 3 satellites.
In January, SV01, the first first satellite of the GPS 3 constellation (Vespucci) was declared active by the U.S. Space Force 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, in Colorado.
GPS 3 SV02 (Magellan) launched in August aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4, has completed on-orbit testing and is waiting to be integrated into the constellation of 31 GPS satellites currently in operation.
After the launch of SV03 in April, the next one (SV04) is projected for later this summer. SV05 through SV09 are in various stages of assembly and test at Lockheed Martin’s production line near Denver.