TECHNOLOGY: Functional Testing of GPS III Satellite

June 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm Leave a comment

Next Gen GPS Satellite

Artist's rendering courtesy Lockheed Martin

Artist’s rendering courtesy Lockheed Martin

U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin announced today (June 5) it has successfully completed final functional integration tests of the network communications equipment going on the next generation Global Positioning Satellite system known as GPS III.

GPS is a navigation system provided by two dozen medium earth orbit satellites maintained and operated by the U.S. Air Force. GPS allows users — both civilian and military — to track where they are on the Earth’s surface to within a couple of meters. The ageing system, first created during the Cold War, is to be replaced by the newer, more accurate GPS III satellites being built by a Lockheed Martin-led team. In addition to being more accurate, the new GPS satellites are said to be more resistant to signal jamming, a growing concern to the military and commercial air and maritime businesses.

Your 4GWAR editor recently completed a magazine article on technologies to improve or even replace satellite-based navigation. The piece will be in the July issue of Unmanned Systems magazine, published by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

The Lockheed Martin team also successfully tested how the the spacecraft bus that will carry the GPS equipment and other payloads into space will integrate with other equipment on the satellite. That testing of the GPS III space vehicle — known as SV 1– assures that all the systems on the part of the space craft that carries mission payloads are functioning normally and ready for final integration with the satellite’s navigation system.

The systems that were tested include: guidance, navigation and control, command and data handling, on-board computer and flight software. The SV 1 satellite’s network communications equipment also passed all tests.

The successfull completion of the latest SV 1 testing “validates that the spacecraft is now ready to begin the next sequence of payload integration and environmental testing,” said Keoki Jackson, vice president of Lockheed Martion’s Navigation Systems mission area.

The satellite remains on schedule for flight-ready delivery to the Air Force in 2014, company officials said.. Lockheed Martin is under contract for production of the first four GPS III satellites and advanced procurement funding for certain components of satellites five through eight.

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Entry filed under: News Developments, Technology, Unmanned Systems, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , .

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