News & Press: Space

Last GPS IIA satellite retired

18 April 2020   (0 Comments)
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The last of the original second-generation GPS IIA satellites has been retired after an incredible time in orbit.



Satellite Vehicle Number 34 (SVN 34) was launched on 26 October 1993 and basically has been part of the constellation ever since; it did actually have a break for a couple of years in 2015, but was back in slot PRN 18 in early 2018. It was replaced as PRN 18 on 1 April 2020 by the second GPS III satellite, SVN 75.

So SVN 34, with a design life of 7.5 years, actually left service after ~26.5 years. Since 13 April it has been being moved to a higher, less congested, ‘disposal orbit’, where it will be put into a safe configuration by depleting remaining fuel and battery life and shutting off all transmitters. This should be completed by 20 April, when it will be handed to the 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, California; it will treated simply as a ‘space object’.

So we have said farewell to the last of the initial operational GPS satellites; SVN 34 was a remarkable spacecraft in many ways.

Details from Schreiver AFB