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The U.S. Department of Defense Launches the Experimental Block-I GPS Satellite, The First GPS Satellite

2/1977 to 2/22/1978 to 12/23/2018

In February 1977 The U.S. Department of Defence launched the first experimental Block-I GPS satellite. It later became part of the NAVSTAR GPS (Navigation Signal Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System)--the first GPS.

The first NAVSTAR satellite, Navstar 1, was launched on February 22, 1978.

"Global Positioning System (GPS) was developed by the US Department of Defense to provide all-weather round-the-clock navigation capabilities for military ground, sea, and air forces. Since its implementation, GPS has also become an integral asset in numerous civilian applications and industries around the globe, including recreational used (e.g., boating, aircraft, hiking), corporate vehicle fleet tracking, and surveying. GPS employs 24 spacecraft in 20,200 km circular orbits inclined at 55 degrees. These vehicles are placed in 6 orbit planes with four operational satellites in each plane.

"The first eleven spacecraft (GPS Block 1) were used to demonstrate the feasibility of the GPS system. They were 3-axis stabilized, nadir pointing using reaction wheels. Dual solar arrays supplied over 400 W. They had S-band (SGLS) communications for control and telemetry and UHF cross-link between spacecraft. They were manufactured by Rockwell Space Systems, were 5.3 m across with solar panels deployed, and had a design life expectancy of 5 years. Unlike the later operational satellites, GPS Block 1 spacecraft were inclined at 63 degrees." (, accessed 8-2020).

On December 23, 2018 the first of the Block IIIA series of third generation GPS satellites was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9, a partially reusable two-stage-to-orbit medium-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX in the United States.

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