Navigating through the Issues

A delay in the delivery of the navigation payload will likely push back the launch of the first GPS III satellite, but isn’t expected to harm the GPS constellation, said Air Force Space Command boss Gen. William Shelton. “We don’t believe that there’s going to be an overall impact to the constellation from that late delivery,” Shelton told the audience at the Friday Space Group Forum that AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies sponsored in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 7. “We’re not happy at all about the nav payload slipping, but we think we’re going to be OK,” he said. Shelton said command officials hadn’t yet determined the exact length of the delay, which may push the satellite’s delivery to 2015. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for GPS III satellites; Exelis of McLean, Va., is the navigation payload supplier. “We’re not to the place yet where we have given up on this particular contractor. And we believe that the product is going to be good once it is delivered. But we’re working through some technical problems right now,” said Shelton. The fact there are still eight GPS IIF satellites to launch will help to mitigate the effect of any GPS III delay, he said. The launch of the fifth GPS IIF satellite is slated for Feb. 21, he said. It will take place at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla.