November 19, 2015 – Raytheon Company successfully completed three preliminary launch readiness events which are important milestones in preparing to launch the modernized Global Positioning System (GPS) system. The new system will benefit millions of people worldwide who rely on GPS for its positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities.
The three exercise events, completed over the summer, demonstrated the maturity and readiness of Raytheon’s cyber-hardened Launch and Checkout System (LCS) to support the launch of GPS III satellites. Part of Raytheon’s GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System (GPS OCX), LCS capabilities will handle the full range of operations and procedures for the launch and early checkout of GPS III satellites.
When completed, the U.S. Air Force-led GPS Modernization Program will yield new positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities for both the U.S. military and civilian users across the globe. And with its groundbreaking technology, GPS OCX will help ensure that the system can meet evolving cyber threats.
“These events demonstrate the growing maturity and readiness of Raytheon’s ground system to support the launch of GPS III satellites,” said Matt Gilligan, vice president of Raytheon Navigation and Environmental Solutions. “LCS includes the cyber-hardened infrastructure for incorporating the remaining OCX mission applications, and represents a significant risk reduction for the overall program.”
The first event successfully demonstrated a number of the capabilities needed to deploy GPS III satellites during launch and checkout, including transferring orbits once in space, configuration procedures, and an ability to handle anomalies the satellites might face in space.
The second event demonstrated for the first time the ability to switch contacts between multiple simulated U.S. Air Force Satellite Control Network ground sites during their launch and early orbit checkout period. Switching contacts between different ground sites is necessary for commanding GPS III satellites and determining orbits as they navigate around Earth.
The third event demonstrated first acquisition of the space vehicle after launch, transfer orbit configurations, simultaneous contacts, and handoffs from multiple simulated U.S. Air Force Space Command Network (AFSCN) sites.
“The use of multiple preliminary events represent a novel, iterative development approach to replace the more traditional use of a few large exercises to test many new capabilities all at once,” added Gilligan. “Holding more frequent, smaller events exercises system maturity and provides the opportunity for GPS teams from different parts of the enterprise to stay current on developing technology.”
GPS OCX is being developed by Raytheon under contract to the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, which is replacing the current GPS operational control system. The OCX Launch and Checkout System provides an early delivery of OCX capabilities needed to support the GPS III satellite launches. LCS is currently undergoing qualification testing in preparation for delivery to the Air Force.
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.