GPS III SV05 (Falcon 9)
17 June 2021
Space Launch Complex 40
Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the GPS III Space Vehicle 05 (GPS III SV05) mission for the U.S. Space Force from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 12:09 p.m. on 17 June 2021.

Falcon 9’s first stage booster previously supported launch of GPS III Space Vehicle 04. Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the Just Read the Instructions droneship located in the Atlantic Ocean.


Today, GPS signals are utilized by more than 4 billion military, commercial and civil users around the world. In the U.S. alone, GPS is estimated to provide more than $300 billion in annual economic benefits. Our financial markets, transportation systems and utilities, as well as our agriculture and construction industries, all rely on GPS.

This critical national infrastructure is now in the process of being completely modernized – and Lockheed Martin is leading the charge.

The constellation is currently comprised of about 31 GPS satellites, the oldest of which dating back to the late 1990s and early 2000s. At the time, they were state-of-the-art technology – and even with an original 7.5 year design life, they still provide valuable services today.

Fast forward to 2008, the Space Force contracted Lockheed Martin to design and build an entirely new design block of GPS satellites – the GPS III – to modernize the GPS satellite constellation with new technology and advanced capabilities, and meet the needs of the military to mitigate threats to our GPS infrastructure.

These new satellites don’t just represent an “upgrade” to the existing model – they’re actually an entirely new satellite design, and the most powerful GPS satellite ever built.

The new GPS provides three times greater accuracy and up to eight times increased anti-jam protection. It also has a new L1C civil signal, compatible with other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) – like Europe’s Galileo – which will bring more civil user connectivity in the future.

GPS III was also intentionally created with a modular design so that new technology and capabilities could be added as technology changes or new mission needs change. Lockheed Martin was well-equipped to meet this need, and the Space Force ultimately awarded the company a contract for 10 next-generation GPS III satellites – and later an additional contract for up to 22 GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) satellites, an even more advanced model.

So, what does this mean for the existing GPS constellation? Once the fifth GPS III satellite is on orbit, the five enhanced satellites on orbit with their advanced capabilities will represent about 16% of the constellation. GPS III is in full production too -- Lockheed Martin’s sixth, seventh and eighth GPS III satellites are already complete, “Available for Launch” and just waiting for launch date arrangements.

Not only does GPS III SV05 bring with it all the advanced capabilities of its four predecessors, but it also brings M-Code (or Military Code) enablement, making it the 24th satellite in orbit with this capability. M-code is a more secure, harder-to-jam or spoof signal, and it is invaluable to our military forces.

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