Space Systems Command (SSC) marked a key milestone for the US Space Force last week, setting a new record with two notable launch accomplishments -- placing USSF-67 and GPS III SV06 in orbit in just 61 hours.
"With the successful delivery of GPS III SV06, I am pleased to report we set a new launch record in our space history," said Col. Erin Gulden, senior materiel leader, SSC Assured Access to Space Launch Execution Delta. “The closest spacing between two National Security Space Launches (NSSL) of a given vehicle family was previously seven days; a record set in 2014 with United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V 541 lifting the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP)-19 from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-3 East at Vandenberg, and the National Reconnaissance Office Launch (NROL)-67 on a ULA Atlas V 401 from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral. The integrated launch teams just delivered both USSF-67 and GPS III SV06 for the Space Force in just 61 hours!”
USSF-67 launched Jan. 15 at 5:56 p.m. ET from the historic Launch Complex-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and GPS III SV06 lifted off Jan. 18 at 7:24 a.m. ET from SLC-40, at neighboring Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
In addition to setting a new record, the two launches shared other achievements as well. Both USSF-67 and GPS III SV06 used previously-flown boosters; USSF-67 was the first NSSL Falcon Heavy to utilize two refurbished side boosters, which had flown on the USSF-44 mission on November 1, 2022. The GPS III SV06 mission used a booster recovered and prepped from the Crew-5 Dragon Endurance mission to the International Space Station in October 2022 for NASA, not a prior NSSL flight. For the program, that was another first as the Space Force continues to evolve its mission assurance processes while still satisfying flight worthiness, commensurate with national security standards.
"The teamwork and collaboration between the Launch Execution Acquisition Delta, Space Launch Delta 45, SpaceX and our NASA partners were vital to these accomplishments. We challenged and critically evaluated processes and procedures, minimized duplicity and improved synergies across the Falcon program product line,” said Gulden.
“The program management team, the 2nd Space Launch Squadron and 5th SLS, Air Force/Space Force launch support services (including Range, Safety, and Weather), our technical mission assurance partners from the Aerospace Corporation, our Systems Engineering & Integration team, NASA and SpaceX -- all operated incredibly well together and seamlessly,” Gulden added. “Everything came together masterfully, ensuring we continue to deliver 100 percent NSSL mission success to our satellite customers."
Space Systems Command is the U.S. Space Force’s field command responsible for acquiring and delivering resilient war fighting capabilities to protect our nation’s strategic advantage in and from space. SSC manages an $11 billion space acquisition budget for the Department of Defense and works in partnership with joint forces, industry, government agencies, academic and allied organizations to accelerate innovation and outpace emerging threats. Our actions today are making the world a better space for tomorrow.