Raytheon has completed three preliminary launch readiness exercises of the Launch and Checkout System (LCS) that will support the US Air Force’s (USAF) GPS III satellites.
The LCS will handle the operations and procedures for the launch and early checkout of GPS III satellites.
The readiness events were completed during the summer, the company said.
Raytheon Navigation and Environmental Solutions vice-president Matt Gilligan said: "These events demonstrate the growing maturity and readiness of Raytheon’s ground system to support the launch of GPS III satellites."
The first event tested the capabilities such as transferring orbits once the satellite is in space, configuration procedures, and an ability to handle anomalies the satellites might face in space.
The second event demonstrated for the first time the ability to switch contacts between multiple simulated US Air Force Satellite Control Network ground sites during their launch and early orbit checkout period.
Switching contacts between different ground sites is necessary for commanding GPS III satellites and determining orbits as they navigate around Earth, Raytheon said.
During the third event, the LCS demonstrated first acquisition of the space vehicle after launch, transfer orbit configurations, simultaneous contacts, and handoffs from multiple simulated USAF Space Command Network (AFSCN) sites.
"The use of multiple preliminary events represent a novel, iterative development approach to replace the more traditional use of a few large exercises to test many new capabilities all at once.
"Holding more frequent, smaller events exercises system maturity and provides the opportunity for GPS teams from different parts of the enterprise to stay current on developing technology." Gilligan added.
LCS is a part of Raytheon’s GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System (GPS OCX), which is being developed for the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center.
The current GPS operational control system will be replaced with the OCX.
Being developed by Lockheed Martin, the GPS III satellites will provide positioning, navigation and timing service to civil and military users worldwide. It brings the full capability to use M-Code (military code) in support of warfighter operations.
The GPS III programme contract includes development of two space vehicles and ground pathfinder and simulators.
Image: The GPS III satellite. Photo: courtesy of Los Angeles Air Force Base.