The US Space Systems Command (SSC) has unveiled the sixth Global Positioning System (GPS) III Space Vehicle 06 (SV06) satellite a day ahead of its launch.
Scheduled for 18 January, the US Space Force’s (USSF) newest satellite launch will be carried out aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
It is planned to lift off from the Space Launch Complex-40 of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, US.
The satellite was delivered to Cape Canaveral last October from Lockheed Martin’s Littleton facility in Colorado.
This will mark the fifth launch of a GPS III satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the final GPS mission as part of the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 1A programme.
The launch of the SV06 precedes the successful launch of the previous SV05 satellite in June 2021. The first GPS III satellite SV01 was launched in December 2018.
Military Communications & Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Directorate programme executive officer (PEO) Cordell DeLaPena Jr said: “SV06 is a key contribution to Space Systems Command’s ongoing GPS modernisation effort, bringing about new capabilities to both civilian and military users around the globe.
“Our progress is only possible due to the close collaboration between our GPS III programme office and contractor teammates.
“GPS III satellites increase our ability to provide military and civilian users with more robust and accurate signals that enable everyday operations such as navigation and search and rescue operations.”
Once launched, the GPS III SV06, also called Amelia Earhart, will join the existing operational constellation of 31 GPS satellites, deployed in medium-Earth orbit (MEO) in six orbital planes at an altitude of 20,200km.
According to SSC, each GPS III military satellite revolves around the Earth twice per day.