The modernized Global Positioning System Block IIR (GPS IIR-M) satellite launched from Cape Canaveral has been declared fully operational for military and civilian navigation users around the world, following a successful on-orbit checkout by a combined US Air Force (USAF)/Lockheed Martin team. The satellite, designated GPS IIR-17M, is the fourth in a series of eight Block IIR-M satellites that bring new capabilities to military and civilian users of the GPS system. Each GPS IIR-M satellite features a modernized antenna panel that provides increased signal power to receivers on the ground, two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military, and a second civil signal that will provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency.
“With a disciplined approach, proven processes and a strong industry-government partnership, the team once again demonstrated its ability to rapidly move another high-performance GPS IIR-M spacecraft into operations for the user,” said Don DeGryse, Lockheed Martin’s vice president, Navigation Systems.
Lockheed Martin’s operation team concluded the on-orbit deployment and checkout of all spacecraft systems in just over six days, allowing the Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operation Squadron (2 SOPS) based at Schriever Air Force Base, CO, to conduct the navigational payload initialization. The satellite was subsequently declared operational for both civil and military users. “The team’s focus on operational excellence and mission success is at the heart of this program and we look forward to working side by side with our customer to sustain this critical system for military and civil users worldwide,” DeGryse said.
The satellite joins three IIR-M satellites and 12 other operational satellites within the current 28-spacecraft constellation. The team prepared the fifth GPS HR-M satellite for its scheduled launch on December 20, 2007, from Cape Canaveral. The Global Positioning Systems Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA, is planning to launch the three remaining GPS IIR-M satellites in 2008, one of which will include a new demonstration payload that will temporarily transmit a third civil signal, known as L5. Lockheed Martin is also leading a team, which includes ITT and General Dynamics, in the competition to build the US Air Force’s next-generation GPS Block III. The new program will improve position, navigation and timing services for the warfighter and civil users worldwide, and provide advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding improved system security, accuracy and reliability. The USAF’s Global Positioning Systems Wing is scheduled to award a multi-billion dollar development contract in early 2008.