By Jeff Todd
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Lockheed Martin is setting yet another new frontier in space, with a Tuesday launch of the next generation of Global Positioning Systems.
“A little over a week ago we encapsulated the satellite and finished it’s preprocessing,” said Chip Eschenfelder with Lockheed Martin. “It’s a whole new design of GPS satellite. It’s actually the most powerful GPS satellite we’ve put in orbit before. This is part of their plan to modernize the entire GPS constellation with new technology and new capabilities.”
GPS III is a joint effort between the Air Force and Lockheed Martin. More than 200 subcontractors helped with the mission. The satellites are built at the company’s Waterton Canyon campus meaning hundreds of Coloradans have a hand in the project.
“It’s time to modernize these, and we’re actually putting up a satellite that can evolve and change for future mission needs,” Eschenfelder said.
A total of 32 satellites have been contracted with the Air Force. GPS III will offer three times more accuracy, improved anti-jamming technology, and more power. Civilian use is expected to take a few years.
“You’re working next door to a veteran who sits there and says, ‘Hey, when I was in the service, I used GPS all the time and I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have it,’” said Eschenfelder.
The launch window opens at 7:11 a.m. on Tuesday. It can be viewed here: https://www.spacex.com/webcast
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.