GPS III satellite

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract by the US Air Force (USAF) for the supply of launch and checkout capability (LCC) to command and control (C2) for its GPS III satellites.

Under the $21.5m contract, the company will integrate the LCC into the Raytheon-developed next-generation operational control system (OCX). The LCC consists of trained satellite operators and engineering solutions to support satellite launch, early orbit operations and checkout before the operation of the spacecraft is handed over to Air Force Space Command.

USAF Global Positioning Systems Directorate director colonel Bernard Gruber said that the LCC will ensure initial launch capability for the first GPS III satellite in 2014.

"Achieving initial launch capability in 2014 is critical to introducing new GPS capabilities on time and will enable the GPS III programme to continue its production pace, maximise efficiencies and reduce long-term costs for the GPS enterprise as a whole," Gruber said.

The USAF’s GPS III programme is intended to replace ageing GPS satellites while delivering improved position, navigation and timing services, as well as provide advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability. Currently, the Lockheed GPS III team is developing the GPS III Non Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST), a full-sized prototype of the GPS III spacecraft, to identify and solve issues prior to the launch of the first space vehicle.

The Lockheed-led GPS III team includes ITT Exelis, General Dynamics, Infinity Systems Engineering, Honeywell, ATK and other sub-contractors. The GPS constellation, for both civil and military users, is managed and operated by Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, US.

Image: USAF’s GPS III programme aims to deliver improved advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability. Photo: Lockheed Martin.