FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — The third of ten new GPS satellites arrived in space Tuesday afternoon on a SpaceX rocket.
Known as GPS III, work on the next-generation location satellites began in 2000. Launches are planned through 2023.
The new satellites are made by Lockheed Martin. They say GPS III signals will be eight times stronger and offer three times better accuracy.
Technology like self-driving cars and farm equipment did not exist in the 1960s and 1970s when the United States created the first satellite navigation networks.
GUSS is a self-driving orchard sprayer made in Kingsburg. Like a self-driving car, it relies on the instant location data provided by GPS.
GUSS Automation COO Gary Thompson says, “We had to be able to make it operate without GPS, as well. Because once we get into the tree canopy of almonds, pistachios or walnuts, we do lose GPS pretty quick — we get a very diminished signal.”
The final GPS III satellite is expected in year 2023, allowing for new capabilities like a Distress Alerting System for search and rescue.