Software for GPS III Satellites: Ready for Takeoff

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It was a big moment for Lockheed Martin earlier last month, when they announced certain software for the US Air Force’s GPS III satellites has been completed. After the Software Item Qualification Testing was conducted for this specific software, which controls the satellite while it is in orbit and monitors the satellite’s subsystems, the green light was given to test it out on the first GPS III satellite.


“Completion of this flight software milestone demonstrates our continued positive program momentum and is another step forward in reducing risk up front to facilitate long-term affordability,” said USAF’s GPS III program manager, Lt. Col. William ‘Todd’ Caldwell.


The Software Item Qualification Testing runs through 131 different events. The end of testing brought an end to the development and risk reduction phase of software engineering. Soon after, Lockheed Martin turned the power on to the system module of the first satellite, GPS III SV-1, successfully.


“This milestone is the latest in a series of critical events signifying that our joint government and industry GPS III team is performing efficiently and meeting its commitments,” said Caldwell.


Keoki Jackson, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Navigation Systems mission area, agrees. “Turning power on to the first GPS III satellite is a major milestone for the team. The successful integration of the first satellite’s system module follows on the heels of our pathfinder GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST), and demonstrates the great value of the investments made by the Air Force to implement low-risk spacecraft acquisition. In this challenging budget environment, we are focused on delivering the critical GPS III capabilities to users affordably and on schedule.”


The GPS III program will allow the USAF to phase out aging satellites with the GPS satellites to allow greater accuracy, anti-jamming capabilities, and a separate civil signal. Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract for the development of the first four satellites, with a total of 32 satellites in the GPS III constellation.

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Khristen Foss

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