Lockheed Martin has transferred the US Air Force (USAF) global positioning system's (GPS III) non-flight satellite testbed (GNST) for evaluation of facilities and pre-launch processes prior to the arrival of the first satellite, to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.
Transferred from Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado, the full-sized GPS III functional prototype will now undergo the dry run launch base space vehicle processing activities and other tests the first flight GPS III satellite will undergo in the next few months.
The shipment follows successful completion of a series of high-fidelity pathfind tests, thermal vacuum (T-Vac) chamber trail blazing, passive intermodulation (PIM) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) trials and environmental checkout at the company's GPS III Processing Facility (GPF) in Colorado, US.
GNST is a full-sized GPS III satellite prototype manufactured as part of the original GPS III development contract to help the air force identify and resolve development issues prior to integration and testing of the first GPS III space vehicle (SV 1).
Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems mission area vice-president Keoki Jackson said the GNST has successfully blazed the trail for every one of the company's GPS III processes, from initial development, production, integration and test, and now pre-launch activities.
''All future GPS III satellites will follow this same path, so the GNST was a smart initiative to help us discover and resolve any issues in advance, implement production efficiencies, and ultimately save a tremendous amount of time and money in the long run,'' Jackson said.
Primarily intended to replace the USAF's existing GPS constellation, GPS III is capable of delivering enhanced accuracy, navigation and timing services, and anti-jamming power to help address the evolving requirements of military, commercial and civilian users worldwide.
Currently under contract for the production of the first four GPS III satellites (SV 1-4), Lockheed has also secured advanced procurement funding for long-lead components for the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth satellites (SV 5-8).
Delivery of the first flight GPS III satellite is scheduled for 2014, for the planned launch in 2015.
Image: The GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed completed pathfinding activities at Lockheed's GPS III Processing Facility in Colorado, US. Photo: © 2013 Lockheed Martin Corporation.