September 20, 2017 – Harris Corporation has delivered the third of 10 advanced navigation payloads to Lockheed Martin, which will increase accuracy, signal power and jamming resistance for U.S. Air Force GPS III satellites.
The advanced navigation payloads feature a Mission Data Unit (MDU) with a unique 70-percent digital design that links atomic clocks, radiation-hardened computers and powerful transmitters – enabling signals three times more accurate than those on current GPS satellites. The new payloads also boost satellite signal power, increase jamming resistance by eight times and help extend the satellite’s lifespan.
The payload is expected to be integrated into GPS III Space Vehicle 3 (GPS III SV03) this summer. In May, Harris’ second GPS III navigation payload was integrated into GPS III SV02. The first navigation payload is integrated aboard GPS III SV01, which has now completed rigorous testing and is in storage awaiting its expected 2018 launch.
“We are now in full production and on target to deliver the fourth GPS III navigation payload to Lockheed Martin this fall,” said Bill Gattle, president, Harris Space and Intelligence Systems. “Our payloads help U.S. and allied soldiers complete their missions, enable billions of dollars in commerce and benefit the everyday lives of millions of people around the world.”
Harris has a long legacy of expertise in creating and sending GPS signals, extending back to the mid-‘70s – providing navigation technology for every U.S. GPS satellite ever launched. Harris is also developing a fully digital MDU for the U.S. Air Force’s GPS III Space Vehicles 11+ acquisition. This new MDU will be demonstrated in fall 2017 and provides even greater flexibility, affordability and accuracy versus existing GPS satellites.
The GPS III satellites are part of the U.S. Air Force’s next generation of GPS satellites and will bring critical new capabilities to the warfighter. GPS III will have three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities. Spacecraft life will extend to 15 years, 25 percent longer than the newest GPS satellites on-orbit today. GPS III’s new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite to be interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems.
Lockheed Martin is currently under contract for 10 GPS III satellites and is in full production at the company’s GPS III Processing Facility near Denver. The $128 million, state-of-the-art manufacturing factory includes a specialized cleanroom and testing chambers designed to streamline satellite production.
The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. 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.