Raytheon, U.S. Air Force Complete Test Milestone For Next-Generation GPS Controls

An artist's concept of the next-generation GPS III global position system satellite in orbit above the Earth.  Image Credit: USAF

An artist’s concept of the next-generation GPS III global position system satellite in orbit above the Earth. Image Credit: USAF

October 12, 2016 – Raytheon has reached another milestone in its development of the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System Next Generation Operational Control System, known as GPS OCX. This new system offers significant improvements to the GPS on which the U.S. military and millions of civilians rely, including enhanced availability, accuracy and security.

OCX’s development is delivered in “blocks,” with Block 0 comprising the Launch and Checkout System to take GPS III satellites into early orbit. Block 1 is built on Block 0 and delivers the full OCX capability, which allows the Air Force to transition from its current GPS ground controls to the modernized and secure GPS OCX master control station.

Raytheon recently completed a series of Risk Reduction functional checkouts of OCX Block 1 capabilities, with a focus on OCX software. This latest development activity integrated iteration 1.5 of the OCX Block 1 Master Control Station with the GPS System Simulator and ran operational scenarios, representing the first end-to-end integration of available Block 1 capabilities. The testing included GPS constellation management and sustainment, demonstrating OCX’s abilities for precision navigation and timing capabilities in a fully cyber-hardened environment. The test included running Kalman filters and generating GPS satellite navigation uploads. The completion of the Risk Reduction functional checkout informs and benefits future OCX development efforts. Future development will add to the existing capability and expand capability to include both the civil and military modernized signals.

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. 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.

GPS OCX provides a number of significant modernized capabilities for GPS users, including robust cybersecurity and deployment of jam-resistant, operational military code, or M-code. The OCX Launch and Checkout System provides an early delivery of much of the overall block 1 OCX capability, and will support the GPS III satellite launches.

The GPS III satellites are being assembled and tested at Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility in Littleton, Colorado. The satellites are being built in a steady production line fashion that is reducing cost and development time. The Lockheed Martin team is currently finishing final testing and integration activities on the first GPS III satellite, GPS III SV01, and is preparing to deliver it to the Air Force later this year. The second satellite, GPS III SV02, is poised to have its major functional systems fully integrated into one space vehicle prior to starting its own environmental testing. GPS III SV03 also is beginning to take form in the company’s production clean room as its major subcomponents are being assembled.

The U.S. Air Force recently awarded contract options for the production of the ninth and tenth GPS III satellites to Lockheed Martin.

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.