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US Space Force accepts control of GPS III SV02 amidst global pandemic

The second GPS III satellite, nicknamed Magellan, has been designated healthy and usable.

According to a Notice of Advisory to Navstar Users (NANU) issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, the satellite has been designated usable as of April 1, 1945 ZULU.

The 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2 SOPS) accepted control of the Magellan on March 27 at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

Designated Satellite Vehicle Number 75 (SVN75) in the GPS constellation, Magellan is the second GPS III satellite to be accepted into the program, and the first to be accepted during a global pandemic.

The second GPS III satellite is encapsulated before launch. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The second GPS III satellite is encapsulated before launch. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

“We’re continuing to make major strides even while working through this pandemic, and we continue to expand our capability to further the program along,” said Lt. Col Stephen Toth, 2 SOPS commander. “This is a huge, momentous occasion for us, that we’re reaching this milestone, that our programs are being delivered, that they’re being executed and the systems are performing as expected. Ultimately, we’re all very excited that we’ve accomplished this major milestone in the program’s history, and we’re very excited for the next things to come.”

The new generation of GPS III vehicles have a 15-year design life and signals that are three times more accurate than the current generation.

“[This means users will have] better accuracy anywhere in the world, with a user’s device being able to determine their location more reliably,” said Capt. Ryan Thompson, 2nd SOPS assistant director of operations.

Additionally, the new satellites have eight times improved anti-jam capability, allowing the military warfighter to operate better in contested, degraded and operationally limited environments.

The vehicles are designed to be forward and backward compatible, which allows them to adapt to the future while remaining fully adaptable to the previous generation of vehicles.

Eight more GPS III satellites are scheduled to launch from now until 2025.

Despite any challenges that may arise, 2nd SOPS remains focused on the mission and continues to make history in space.

“As we’ve moved forward into the Space Force, we’ve taken a bigger mindset approach toward being warfighters,” Toth said. “What COVID has actually brought out of us is the full understanding of what it is to operate with a warfighter mindset. We may not be at war with an enemy per say, but we are definitely at war with the virus. My job is to ensure we continue to provide position, navigation and timing to the world. And we take that very seriously, so despite the virus, we’ll ensure that our mission continues.”

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