GPS III COps connects with first GPS III satellite
The US Air Force’s (USAF’s) GPS III Contingency Operations Program (COps) has successfully connected with the first GPS III satellite on orbit, the USAF announced on 22 October.
The COps system will allow the USAF to operationally command and control the new, more powerful GPS III satellites as well as legacy GPS satellites currently in the constellation.
The first GPS III satellite was launched in December 2018, and a number of milestones have been achieved recently, including the completion of final ground control system software testing and verification in May 2019. Following final system test completion in June 2019, the air force approved installation of COps to command and control legacy operations at the Master Control Station at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and at the Alternate Master Control Station at Vandenberg, Air Force Base near Lompoc, California.
The COps programme received approval from Air Force Space Command’s Operations and Communications Directorate (A3/6) to enter a trial period in October. This will include testing COps command and control with the live, on-orbit GPS III satellite to verify requirements and functionality of the satellite. The testing aims to confirm readiness for operational acceptance targeted for December 2019 and April 2020 for the GPS III satellite and COps respectively.
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