50th Space Wing by Scott Prater

Battery Modification Could Add 27 Years of Life to GPS Fleet

The Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center has extended the operational life of 19 GPS satellites in orbit by altering their battery chargers. By Bob Brewin

The Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center and a team of contractors have extended the operational life of 19 GPS satellites in orbit by fiddling with their battery chargers.

Lockheed Martin launched the GPS IIR/M satellites between 1997 and 2009, and the fleet accounts for more than half the 36 GPS birds on orbit with batteries, the “the primary life-limiting component when GPS IIR/IIR-M vehicles are past their design life,” SMC said.

Aerospace Corp., a federally funded research and development center with extensive GPS expertise,  Lockheed and SMC determined that that reducing the charge rates during solstice season would add an average of one to two years of life per space vehicle.

Last week, the 2nd Space Operations Squadron, Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., completed the battery charge modification, which will extend the life of each of the GPS IIR/IIM satellites by one to two years, more than 27 years of cumulative life across fleet, SMC said.

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