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Lockheed Gains GPS III Launch & Checkout Contract

GPS III LM.jpgGPS III satellite. Lockheed Martin illustration (Click image to enlarge.)
January 11, 2012
Inside GNSS, January/February 2012

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The U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $21.5-million contract to provide a launch and checkout capability (LCC) to command and control all GPS III satellites from launch through early on-orbit testing.

The LCC, which will be integrated into the Raytheon-developed next-generation operational control segment (OCX) will ensure launch availability for the first GPS III satellite in 2014. The LCC contract covers training of satellite operators and development of engineering solutions in partnership with OCX to support launch, early orbit operations, and checkout of all GPS III satellites before the spacecraft are turned over to Air Force Space Command for operations.

Achieving initial launch capability in 2014 is critical to introducing new GPS capabilities on time and will enable the GPS III program to continue its production pace, maximize efficiencies, and reduce long term costs for the GPS enterprise as a whole,” said Col. Bernie Gruber, director of the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning Systems Directorate.

Gruber added that LCC will ensure that the first GPS III launch can take place in 2014, effectively closing the time gap between availability of the new GPS III satellites and the beginning of OCX operations. The GPS Directorate has been trying to synchronize the implementation schedules of GPS III and the OCX — currently scheduled to become initially operational in 2015 — so as to be able to take advantage of new capabilities on the satellites, including the new civil L1C signal, higher-powered military signals, and additional PRN codes.

Operating under a $1.46-billion contract (with another $2.1 billion in options), Lockheed Martin serves the GPS III prime contractor with teammates ITT Exelis, General Dynamics, Infinity Systems Engineering, Honeywell, ATK and other subcontractors. Air Force Space Command's 2nd Space Operation s Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.

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