USA-63, also known as GPS II-8 and GPS SVN-21, was an American navigation satellite which formed part of the Global Positioning System. It was the eighth of nine Block II GPS satellites to be launched, which were the first operational GPS satellites to fly.

NamesNavstar 2-08
Mission typeNavigation
OperatorU.S. Air Force
COSPAR ID1990-068A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.20724
Mission duration7.5 years (planned)
12 years (achieved)
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftGPS II
Spacecraft typeGPS Block II[1]
ManufacturerRockwell International
Launch mass840 kg (1,850 lb) [2]
Dimensions5.3 m (17 ft) of long
Power710 watts
Start of mission
Launch date2 August 1990, 05:39:00 UTC
RocketDelta II 6925-9.5
(Delta D197) [3]
Launch siteCape Canaveral, LC-17A
ContractorMcDonnell Douglas
Entered serviceSeptember 1990
End of mission
Deactivated25 September 2002
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit[4]
RegimeMedium Earth orbit
SlotE2 (slot 2 plane E)
Perigee altitude19,932 km (12,385 mi)
Apogee altitude20,433 km (12,696 mi)
Period718.0 minutes
← USA-54 (GPS II-7)
USA-64 (GPS II-9) →


Global Positioning System (GPS) was developed by the U.S. 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 55.0°. These vehicles are placed in 6 orbit planes with four operational satellites in each plane.[2]

GPS Block 2 was the operational system, following the demonstration system composed of Block 1 (Navstar 1 - 11) spacecraft. These spacecraft were 3-axis stabilized, nadir pointing using reaction wheels. Dual solar arrays supplied 710 watts of power. They used S-band (SGLS) communications for control and telemetry and Ultra high frequency (UHF) cross-link between spacecraft. The payload consisted of two L-band navigation signals at 1575.42 MHz (L1) and 1227.60 MHz (L2). Each spacecraft carried 2 rubidium and 2 Cesium clocks and nuclear detonation detection sensors. Built by Rockwell Space Systems for the U.S. Air force, the spacecraft measured 5.3 m across with solar panels deployed and had a design life of 7.5 years.[2]


USA-63 was launched at 05:39:00 UTC on 2 August 1990, atop a Delta II launch vehicle, flight number D197, flying in the 6925-9.5 configuration.[3] The launch took place from Launch Complex 17A (LC-17A) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS),[5] and placed USA-63 into a transfer orbit. The satellite raised itself into medium Earth orbit using a Star-37XFP apogee motor.[1]


On 3 September 1990, USA-63 was in an orbit with a perigee of 19,932 km (12,385 mi), an apogee of 20,433 km (12,696 mi), a period of 718.0 minutes, and 54.7° of inclination to the equator.[4] It operated in slot 2 of plane E of the GPS constellation.[6] The satellite had a mass of 840 kg (1,850 lb), and generated 710 watts of power.[2] It had a design life of 7.5 years,[1] and ceased operations on 25 September 2002.


  1. ^ a b c Krebs, Gunter. "GPS-2 (Navstar-2)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "Display: Navstar 2-08 1990-068A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ a b McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Report. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b McDowell, Jonathan. "Satellite Catalog". Jonathan's Space Report. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  5. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch List". Launch Vehicle Database. Jonathan's Space Report. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  6. ^ Wade, Mark. "Navstar". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 11 November 2002. Retrieved 10 July 2012.