Press Release

Lockheed Martin-Built GPS Satellites Reach 150 Years Of Combined On Orbit Service

By SpaceRef Editor
January 25, 2012
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The U.S. Air Force’s fleet of Global Positioning System (GPS) Block IIR and IIR-M satellites has accumulated 150 collective years of successful on-orbit operations.
The Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT – News) built GPS IIR and IIR-M satellites make up the majority of the current operational GPS constellation and have provided a reliability record of better than 99.9 percent. In over 150 cumulative years of on-orbit life, this translates to less than one minute of unscheduled outage for every month of operational service, an unmatched record of performance and reliability for GPS users around the globe.

Like the Internet, GPS is an essential element of the global information infrastructure. GPS technology is found in everything from cell phones and wristwatches to shipping containers, and ATM’s. The system boosts productivity across a wide swath of the economy, to include farming, construction, mining, surveying, supply chain management and more. Major communications networks, banking systems, financial markets, and power grids depend on GPS and the technology is embedded in virtually every U.S. military asset making our armed forces safer and more effective.

“This tremendous milestone is a reflection of the men and women who designed, built and are now operating these GPS satellites. The government and industry GPS IIR and IIR-M team is among the most talented and dedicated in the world,” said Joe Trench, vice president of Navigation Systems for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “Building on our GPS heritage, we look forward to delivering even better capabilities with GPS III.”
Lockheed Martin designed and built 21 GPS IIR satellites for the Air Force and subsequently modernized eight of those spacecraft, designated GPS IIR-M, to enhance operations and navigation signal performance. The oldest GPS IIR satellite launched July 23, 1997 and has been operating for nearly 15 years, 5 years beyond its design life. The final GPS IIR-M satellite launched August 17, 2009. Lockheed Martin heritage also dates back to the production of the Oscar and Nova satellites, the original navigation programs that paved the way to the current GPS system.

As satellites age and GPS becomes increasingly vital to modern civilization, the Air Force and Lockheed Martin are developing the next generation system, known as GPS III. GPS III will be a catalyst for profound new applications as it brings on significant capabilities including increased accuracy, availability, anti-jam power, integrity and reliability. The satellites will also add a fourth civil signal that will be interoperable with International Global Navigation Satellite Systems, providing even better precision and increased earth coverage.

With first launch in 2014, GPS III is the lowest risk solution to constellation sustainment and the most affordable path to meet the needs of military, commercial and civilian users worldwide.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.8 billion.

Note to Editors:
GPS video and high-resolution images are available for download at
Media Contact:
Michael Friedman
[email protected]

SpaceRef staff editor.