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US Air Force Closer to Launching First GPS 3 Satellite

By | December 14, 2017
GPS3 SV02 at Lockheed Martin's manufacturing facility near Denver, Colorado. Photo: Lockheed Martin.

GPS3 SV02 at Lockheed Martin’s manufacturing facility near Denver, Colorado. Photo: Lockheed Martin.

The Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) successfully established remote connectivity and communicated with the first GPS 3 satellite, further validating that the U.S. Air Force is ready to launch the first in a series of new GPS assets. According to the Air Force, GPS 3 Space Vehicle 01 (GPS 3 SV01), the first of 10 GPS 3 satellites designed by Lockheed Martin and OCX, successfully completed Factory Mission Readiness Testing (FMRT) on Nov. 2. The FMRT validated the command and control interaction between the satellite and the OCX’s Launch and Checkout System (LCS) through a simulated full launch and early orbit mission event sequence.

During this end-to-end system demonstration, Raytheon’s OCX LCS software installed at Lockheed Martin’s Launch and Check Out Capability node in Denver, Colorado sent command signals to Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. From there, the commands were uplinked back to the GPS 3 SV01 satellite, currently awaiting a call up for launch at Lockheed Martin.

The demo further verifies the space-to-ground compatibility between GPS 3 satellites and OCX, the Air Force stated. During a 2013 compatibility and integration test, Lockheed Martin’s GPS 3 Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST), a full-sized, functional satellite prototype, also connected with and received commands from an earlier version of the OCX LCS software.

In September, the Air Force declared GPS 3 SV01 “available for launch,” with launch expected in 2018. The successful FMRT was the final validation that GPS 3 SV01 is ready to be shipped to the launch pad.

OCX will control all legacy and new signals, provide protection against evolving cyber threats, and reduce operation and sustainment costs through efficient software architecture, automation and performance-based logistics, according to the Air Force.

The Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center lead the GPS 3 and OCX teams. Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.

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