The first GPS III satellite has passed a critical test, according to satellite builder Lockheed Martin.
Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver, tweeted that the satellite has successfully its thermal vacuum test (TVAC).
— Rick Ambrose (@RickAmbroseSSC) January 13, 2016
Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor on the GPS III program to build the next-generation of navigation satellites, a total of eight in the original contract. The contract includes options for up to four more satellites, and the Air Force has told Congress it expects to execute options for at least two of those satellites.
The first GPS III satellite is expected to launch in 2017.