Lockheed Martin passes milestone for next gen GPS

Filed under: Aerospace/Defense,Daily News |

The next generation of the Global Positioning System, managed and operated at Schriever Air Force Base, is one step closer to launch.

Lockheed Martin has completed successful functional integration tests of the spacecraft bus and network communications equipment on the first satellite of the upgrade GPS system, known as GPS III.

The Denver-based team tested the GPS space vehicle I, the portion of the craft that carries mission payloads and hosts them in orbit. The tests proved that all the subsystems are ready for final integration with the satellite’s navigation payload.

This is the latest milestone for the new generation of GPS satellites. In February, Lockheed successfully tested the electrical-mechanical integration of the satellite, validated its interfaces and started functional integration testing.

“The successful completion of the SV 1 bus functional check out validates that the spacecraft is now ready to begin the next sequence of payload integration and environmental testing, prior to delivery,” said Keoki Jackson, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Navigation Systems mission area.

GPS III SV 1’s navigation payload, which is being produced by ITT Exelis, will be delivered to Lockheed Martin’s GPS Processing Facility near Denver later in 2013. The hosted nuclear detection system payload has already been delivered and mechanically integrated. The satellite remains on schedule for flight-ready delivery to the U.S. Air Force in 2014.

GPS III is a critically important program for the Air Force, affordably replacing aging GPS satellites in orbit, while improving capability to meet the evolving demands of military, commercial and civilian users. GPS III satellites will deliver three times better accuracy and – to outpace growing global threats that could disrupt GPS service – up to eight times improved anti-jamming signal power for additional resiliency. The GPS III will also include enhancements adding to the spacecraft’s design life and a new civil signal designed to be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems.

Lockheed Martin is currently under contract for production of the first four GPS III satellites.

The GPS III team is led by the GPS directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the GPS III prime contractor with teammates ITT Exelis, General Dynamics, Infinity Systems Engineering, Honeywell, ATK and other subcontractors. Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.