Satellite Vehicle Number 38 (SVN-38) has been decommissioned to make way for the next generation of Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellites at the US Air Force’s (USAF) Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, US.
The 2nd Space Operations Squadron (SOPS) chief bus system analyst first lieutenant Kristina Brandes stated that the satellite was retired as it reached the end of its operational life.
Kristina Brandes said: “It’s one of our oldest satellites that launched 22 years ago. Once we turn off the transmitter (one of the final commands), it will basically be dead in the air…it will be tracked as space debris.”
The SVN-38, a block II A vehicle, will be located at medium Earth orbit (MEO). Although the satellite had a design life of seven and a half years, it lasted 22 years.
2nd SOPS operations director lieutenant colonel Michael Schriever said: “We tell [people during] tours, all the time, that the reason our constellation is so healthy is because of the airmen who control it.
“[There are] a couple decades of experience here across the members who are taking care of these vehicles. Their expertise enables the vehicles to live well past their design life, making sure we can command [and] control it providing the best service to our global users.”
The squadron has so far decommissioned a total of 37 satellites.
The first GPS III satellite for the USAF was launched in December last year, while the second was launched in August.
GPS III satellites are designed to provide improved position, navigation and timing services and advanced anti-jam capabilities.
Built by Lockheed Martin, the advanced satellites will deliver three times better accuracy and up to eight times more powerful anti-jamming capabilities.