Item History: This satellite originally started as one of the last four Block I Replenishment Satellites, GPS-0009 through 0012, hence the name GPS-0012. During the transition of the GPS from a development to production program, the Navstar GPS Joint Program Office (JPO) received permission to convert the last GPS Block I Replenishment satellite into a Block II QTV to reduce risk and save program cost. The then recently approved MIL-STD-1540 was imposed on the GPS Block I, then subsequently to the Block I Replenishment and Block II production contracts. MIL-STD-1540 provided the option to either build and qualify an entire space vehicle or very much later use a delta-qualification approach (now known as proto-qualification). The Air Force chose to implement the more expensive option of a full QTV on both Block I and Block II. Most satellite programs, to include GPS Blocks IIR and IIF use the proto-qualification concept today to save cost.
When the GPS was approved to become an operational system it came under scrutiny in congress and was in jeopardy of being canceled. The contract was awarded to build GPS-0012 in 1981 and the vehicle was constructed in 1983 and underwent system level testing in 1984 both at the Rockwell (now Boeing) Seal Beach facility in California after which it was subjected to thermal vacuum testing at Arnold Engineering Development Center, Tullahoma Tennessee in the summer of 1985. The vehicle was returned to Seal Beach for acoustic testing and then sent to Cape Canaveral for Payload Assist Module-Delta II (PAM-DII) (see figure 2) and Space Transportation System (STS) (i.e, Space Shuttle) integration checkout. The GPS-0012 was the first GPS SV to be designed and, integrated for launch using the Space Shuttle. Due to the Challenger disaster (51L) no GPS SV was ever brought to orbit by the shuttle. The photo link below shows GPS-0012 installed in a shuttle mock-up during a payload test. In 1986 it was returned to Seal Beach and put into storage; two years later it was transferred in pieces to Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. To fulfill a promise made by Dr. Ivan Getting, an early GPS pioneer, what remained of the satellite was transferred to the San Diego Air and Space Museum. There, it was restored and put on display on March 15, 2000. The photo below shows Dr. Getting with the GPS-0012 chassis when it arrived at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. Dr. Getting was the president of The Aerospace Corporation, which supported the design and development of the GPS. Dr. Getting’s leadership and contributions to GPS were recognized in 2003 when he was the co-recipient of the Draper Prize, along with Dr. Brad Parkinson.
This display of GPS-0012 at the San Diego Air & Space Museum is the only publicly displayed GPS SV.