GPS III satellite

Lockheed Martin has completed software item qualification testing (SIQT) of flight software for the US Air Force’s (USAF) next-generation Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellite systems.

Representing a combination of rigorous software engineering risk reduction and a development phase, the testing featured 131 individual test events that allowed comprehensive evaluation of the software’s ability to deliver reliable and effective command and control for the satellites.

US Air Force GPS III programme manager lieutenant colonel William Caldwell said the SIQT completion reflects continued positive programme momentum and marks another step forward in up front risk reduction to facilitate long-term affordability.

"In this challenging budget environment, the entire government and industry team is focused on delivering the critical GPS III satellites affordably and efficiently for users worldwide," Caldwell added.

"Testing featured 131 individual test events that allowed comprehensive evaluation of the software’s ability."

Regarding Lockheed’s involvement, Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems mission area vice president Keoki Jackson said: "Through up-front investments in high-fidelity, flight equivalent hardware and software testbeds, our team successfully executed on schedule to develop and qualify the flight software critical to the success of the GPS III programme."

Already integrated and tested by the company on the programme’s satellite prototype, also dubbed GPS III non-flight satellite testbed (GNST) in an effort to reduce risk, the software will now undergo integration and testing aboard the first GPS III spacecraft, which is scheduled to be launched in 2014.

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The GPS III is a next-generation communication satellite designed to replace the existing GPS satellites that are used by military and civilian customers across the globe.

Expected to offer enhanced position, navigation and timing services, the satellite also provides advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability.

Lockheed is currently under contract to deliver four GPS III satellites for USAF, which is planning to procure up to 32 satellites types.

Image: The first GPS III spacecraft is scheduled to launch in 2014. Photo courtesy of © 2013 Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Defence Technology