Lockheed Martin's GPS III Non-Flight Satellite passes Air Force tests

Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST) has successfully completed a series of high-fidelity pathfinding events that the next-generation GPS satellites will go through prior to delivery for launch. The first GPS III satellite is scheduled to be delivered to the Air Force in 2014.

The GPS III program will affordably replace aging GPS satellites in orbit while simultaneously improving capabilities for military, commercial, and civilian users. The satellite will deliver three times better accuracy and up to eight times anti-jamming signal power. Additional enhancements will allow for interoperability with international global navigation satellite systems.

“As the GNST serves as a pathfinder for the GPS III program, its successful completion of this testing validates that development risks have been retired and our engineering and technology is sound for the flight vehicles being built,” explained Keoki Jackson, vice president for Lockheed Martin’s Navigation Systems mission area.

An innovative investment under the original GPS III development contract, the GNST is a full-sized satellite prototype. The GNST has gone through the development, test and production process for the GPS III program first, significantly reducing risks for flight vehicles, improving production predictability, increasing mission assurance and lowering overall costs.

The GNST successfully passed thermal vacuum chamber trail blazing tests, demonstrating facility, mechanical and electrical ground equipment integration. Additionally, it completed passive intermodulation and electromagnetic compatibility testing, assuring that multiple signals generated from the satellite or transmitted from the hosted nuclear detection system payload to the satellite do not interfere with each other. It also performed a series of vehicle integration test procedures.

The GNST is now being prepared for shipment to Cape Canaveral U.S. Air Force Station in Florida for more risk-reduction activities related to satellite launch. The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force and Missile Systems Center with Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor.

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