ITT Exelis has passed a major milestone for the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System III (GPS III) program. The company has successfully completed acceptance testing of the navigation payload element for the GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST), and shipped the pathfinder unit to prime contractor Lockheed Martin’s facility near Denver, CO., for thermal vacuum testing and space vehicle integration.
In March 2012, Exelis announced that it had been awarded a $32 million contract by Lockheed Martin to build the navigation payloads for GPS III space vehicles three and four.
"The completion of this program milestone is testimony to the fact that we are focused on delivering GPS III capabilities to meet the needs of more than 1 billion users worldwide,” said Mark Pisani, vice president and general manager, Precision Instruments and Positioning, Navigation and Timing Systems, ITT Exelis Geospatial Systems. “We are excited for the next step in this program—delivering the Exelis navigation panel to Lockheed Martin for integration into the space vehicle.”
Affordably replacing and improving the current GPS satellites, GPS III will deliver better accuracy and improved anti-jamming power while enhancing the spacecraft’s design life and adding a new civil signal designed to be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems.
“Completion of the GNST Navigation Panel Element is a very important milestone for this program,” said Keoki Jackson, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Navigation Systems mission area. “This accomplishment was made possible by the tremendous teamwork between ITT Exelis, Lockheed Martin, the Aerospace Corp. and the U.S. Air Force. We look forward to integrating the panel onto our pathfinder vehicle and continuing to reduce risk early in the program, paving the way for very efficient and affordable satellite production.”
For nearly 40 years, Exelis payloads and payload components have been on board every GPS satellite and have accumulated more than 500 years of on-orbit life without a single mission-related failure due to Exelis equipment.
The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is 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 Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, CO, manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.