Satellite Communications

Lockheed powers up second GPS III satellite

The next generation of Global Positioning System satellites got a little closer recently, as Lockheed Martin announced that it had turned on power to the bus and network communications equipment of the GPS III Space Vehicle 2 (SV-02), the second satellite of the program.

Successfully powered on Dec. 19, 2013, at Lockheed Martin’s Denver-based GPS III Processing Facility, the GPS III SV-02 has reached an important production benchmark that validates its interfaces and mechanical integration, and will soon be capable of further electrical and software-hardware integration testing.

“The GPS III SV-02 bus power on is a significant milestone, positioning SV-02 in line with the Air Force’s first GPS III space vehicle, SV-01, in our GPF, where both satellites are progressing through sequential integration and test work stations specifically designed for efficient and affordable satellite production,” said Mark Stewart, vice president for Lockheed Martin’s Navigation Systems mission area. 

GPS III Satellite

The GPS III program is expected to affordably replace the current generation of GPS Satellites, which have exceeded 150 cumulative operational years on-orbit, and also provide a significant upgrade in capabilities. According to Lockheed Martin, GPS III satellites will have a 25 percent longer spacecraft life, deliver three times better accuracy, and provide eight times more effective anti-jamming capabilities.  The system also will transmit a new civilian-use signal that will enhance civilian user connectivity.

The GPS III team is directed by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, and was originally awarded the contract for the design, development and production of the first two GPS III satellites in 2008. In early 2012, Lockheed Martin was awarded an additional $238 million contract for the third and fourth satellites.  A fifth and sixth were recently funded when the Air Force exercised its option in December. Ultimately, the Air Force is planning to build up to 32 GPS III satellites.

The launch of the first satellite is projected for later this year and is currently in the integration and test flow stage leading to “flight-ready” delivery to the Air Force.

About the Author

Joey Cheng is an editorial fellow with Defense Systems.

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