Next-gen GPS III satellites undergo first readiness test

The contractors that will deliver the Air Force’s next generation GPS III satellites report that they have finished the first launch readiness exercise on the road to achieving launch availability in 2014, Lockheed Martin said in a Sept. 5 news release.

Lockheed Martin is responsible for building the GPS III satellites, while Raytheon is charged with delivering the next-generation GPS operational control system, known as OCX, for the spacecraft.

The three-day launch readiness exercise was intended to validate basic satellite command and control functions, test the software and hardware interfaces, and demonstrate basic console procedures required for space vehicle contacts during the launch and early orbit mission.

The event was the first in an extensive series of exercises and mission rehearsals leading up to the 2014 launch, the announcement said.

The military service awarded both companies contracts in January to furnish a launch and checkout capability necessary for the launch and initial on-orbit testing of all of the satellites in the GPS constellation. The Air Force plans to eventually purchase as many as 32 GPS III satellites to replace the existing constellation.

The Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is leading the development effort. The  Air Force Space Command, located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., will manage and operate the GPS constellation for civil and military users.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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