The launch of the third GPS III has been delayed to minimise COVID-19 exposure for the launch crew and early-orbit operators.
The GPS III SV03 (GPS III-3) launch from Cape Canaveral was scheduled for late April but is now planned for 30 June at the earliest, pending a re-evaluation in May.
The US Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) explains: ‘The current GPS constellation is healthy, allowing for a strategic pause to ensure the health and safety of our force without operational impact.’
The SMC continues: ‘GPS III will bring 3-times better accuracy and up to 8-times improved anti-jamming capability than its predecessor. The current constellation is healthy with 31 satellites on orbit, allowing the team to take this strategic pause without gaps in coverage or capability.’
GPS III SV03 will be launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and will be the first such mission in which the launch service provider is recovering the booster.