Johnathon Caldwell, vice president of navigation systems at Lockheed Martin’s space business, confirmed that the second GPS III satellite will continue on-orbit testing before joining the U.S. Air Force’s GPS constellation, GPS World reported Tuesday.
Nicknamed “Magellan,” the SV02 satellite was launched in August following its predecessor’s completion of on-orbit testing in July. It is currently in temporary holding as it continues testing activities.
The Air Force expects to transfer SV01 to the constellation in late 2019, with the Second Space Operations Squadron handling readiness activities ahead of operational checkout.
Caldwell said the Lockheed team is training the squadron on operating the GPS III vehicle, and that he expects 2SOPS to be able to “start flying it as a live, set-healthy vehicle” by the end of the year.
SV03 and SV04 have both been declared available for launch by the Air Force, with the former slated for launching aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in January 2020.