Lockheed Martin was awarded a $68 million contract by the United States Air Force giving them the the opportunity to provide mission readiness, launch, early orbit checkout, and on-orbit operations engineering support for the first two GPS III satellites. These satellites are scheduled to launch in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
GPS III space vehicles will replace the current aging GPS II satellites and improve the ever-changing needs of commercial, military, and civilian users around the word. They will offer increased accuracy as well as anti-jamming capabilities, while at the same time enhancing the satellite’s design life. A new civil signal will also be added, designed to work with international global navigation satellite systems.
The contract gives Lockheed the right to provide technical support to the Air Force’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS) as well as keep an eye on the health and performance of these first two GPS III satellites through the entire 15 years of their operational lives. The contract also supports the operations of the Launch and Checkout Capability (LCC) at Lockheed’s Newtown, PA facility. The LCC will provide launch and checkout functionality needed to keep the launch of the first satellite on schedule in 2014.
“The GPS III flight operations contract along with the Launch and Checkout Capability will better synchronize our GPS control and space segments to support the first launch of a GPS III satellite and ensure mission success,” said Capt. Alex Rawling, the USAF GPS III Launch Operations lead. “We are focused on delivering the critical GPS III capabilities to users as efficiently and affordably as possible.”
Karen Gauthier, Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Operations and Sustainment program manager, said, “Production of the first two GPS III satellites is progressing well and the flight operations contract will allow our team to ensure the satellites perform as planned throughout their mission lives. As we near our first launch exercise in August of this year, we are committed to delivering GPS III affordably and efficiently to meet the growing demand for GPS services worldwide.”
Lockheed was awarded the design, development, and production contract for the GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST) and the first two GPS III satellites back in 2008, with options priced in the contract for up to 10 more satellites. Early this year, the Air Force acted on a $238 million option to produce the next two GPS III space vehicles, numbers three and four. The Air Force intends on purchasing up to 32 GPS III satellites when all is said and done.