Lockheed assembles third GPS III satellite
Lockheed Martin has fully integrated the US Air Force’s (USAF's) third GPS III satellite into a complete space vehicle, the company announced on 27 November.
Technicians successfully integrated the satellite’s major components – its system module, navigation, and propulsion core – into one fully assembled space vehicle that is now being prepared to start environmental testing.
GPS III SV02 completed integration in May, finished acoustic testing in July, and moved into thermal vacuum testing in August. The second GPS III satellite is expected to be delivered to the USAF in 2018. The fourth GPS III satellite is expected to be integrated into a complete space vehicle in January 2018.
Launch of GPS III SV01 is expected in 2018.
Lockheed Martin is contracted for ten GPS III satellites as part of the USAF modernised GPS programme. GPS III satellites will have three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities.
The shelf life of the spacecraft will extend to 15 years, 25% longer than the newest GPS satellites on-orbit today. GPS III's new L1C civil signal will also make it the first GPS satellite to be interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems.
Lockheed Martin's GPS III satellite design includes a flexible, modular architecture that allows for the insertion of new technology. Satellites built off this design are compatible with both the USAF next generation Operational Control System and the existing GPS constellation.
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