Space Force GPS III launch postponed due to COVID-19 risk

By Courtney Albon / April 7, 2020 at 4:21 PM

The Space Force has delayed a GPS III satellite launch slated for April to "no earlier than late June" due to concerns about the number of personnel needed to support the mission as the Defense Department balances safety and mission-critical activities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond told reporters today during a Mitchell Institute virtual event the service reviewed the mission and determined that because the service has a large GPS constellation on orbit, it made sense to delay the launch.

"We have a very, very robust constellation on orbit," he said. "And so when we did that analysis and we looked at the number of people that would have to be on duty in a relatively small, constrained area, we've decided to shift that launch probably no earlier than the end of June."

The mission would have launched the Space Force's third GPS III space vehicle. The service in March launched an Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, adhering to DOD social distancing guidelines. Raymond said the Space Force is "scrubbing" each launch scheduled to weigh "risk to force and risk to mission."