GPS III satellite

Raytheon has successfully concluded the second launch readiness exercise of operational control system (OCX) for the US Air Force’s (USAF) next generation Global Positioning System (GPS III) satellite systems.

Carried out in late February, the three-day joint industry and government exercise (Exercise 2) demonstrates that the OCX software addresses mission requirements and is on track to support the first GPS III satellite launch readiness.

Building on the functionality validated in Exercise 1, the latest exercise replicated a liquid apogee engine burn to integrate the GPS III vehicle into transfer orbit for evaluation of vehicle telemetry, manoeuvre planning and execution.

Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services business vice president and GPS OCX programme manager Ray Kolibaba said the successful completion of Exercise 2 clearly indicates that the design and command and control and mission planning capability meet requirements to support the GPS III launch.

"The entire government-industry team is working hand-in-hand to successfully deliver the OCX ground system and GPS III space vehicles for a successful first launch," Kolibaba added.

Integrated with built-in automation and compact service-oriented architecture, the GPS OCX is an advanced operational gateway service providing the GPS constellation with command, control and mission management, including IIR-M, IIF and new GPS III satellites, with improved defence against existing and future cyber threats.

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Currently under development by a Lockheed Martin-led team, GPS III is a next-generation communication satellite designed to replace the existing GPS constellation, which is used by the military and civilian customers to provide navigational information worldwide.

Designed to deliver improved accuracy, navigation and timing services, and anti-jamming power, the first spacecraft is scheduled to join the on-orbit constellation in 2015.

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

Image: An impression of the USAF’s GPS III satellite in orbit.

Defence Technology