Lockheed Martin has completed final integration of the US Air Force’s (USAF) first next-generation Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellite.
Engineers and technicians lowered the system module of the GPS III Space Vehicle One (SV 01) into place over its propulsion core, marking the integration of two into one space vehicle.
Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems mission area vice-president Mark Stewart said: "The final integration of the first GPS III satellite is a major milestone for the GPS III programme."
The new satellite will offer three times better accuracy, up to eight times enhanced anti-jamming capabilities and extend spacecraft life to 15 years, the company stated.
Its new L1C civil signal will make it the first GPS satellite interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems.
During systems integration, several major fully functional satellite components were brought together, including the navigation payload that performs the primary positioning, navigation and timing mission.
The functional bus comprises sophisticated electronics that manage all satellite operations, while the propulsion core enables the satellite to manoeuvre for operations on orbit.
Mr Stewart said: "This summer, SV 01 will begin Thermal Vacuum testing, where it will be subjected to simulated harsh space environments.
"Successful completion of this testing is critical as it will help validate our design and manufacturing processes for all follow-on GPS III satellites."
Lockheed Martin is currently responsible for the manufacture of eight GPS III satellites at its GPS III processing facility near Denver.
The GPS III is a family of next-generation satellites designed to replace USAF’s existing GPS constellation, which provides location and time information in all weather conditions, while enhancing capability to address emerging requirements of military, commercial and civilian users worldwide.
Image: GPS III Space Vehicle One is preparing for system-level testing in mid-2015. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.