The Lockheed Martin team developing the US Air Force’s next-generation Global Positioning System (GPS) spacecraft, known as GPS III, has successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) phase, a major program milestone that allows the team to begin the Critical Design Review (CDR) stage.

Lockheed Martin, Newtown, PA, along with teammates ITT, Clifton, NJ, and General Dynamics, Gilbert, AZ, completed a comprehensive spacecraft segment PDR, which represented the culmination of 70 subsystem and assembly PDRs, executed over the past six months.

Nearly 150 representatives from the US Air Force Global Positioning Systems Wing and user communities, including representatives from the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Space Command, the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Aviation Agency participated in the four-day Space Vehicle PDR at Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities in Newtown, PA. Completion of the PDR milestone validates that the design meets warfighter and civil requirements and advances the GPS III program into the Critical Design Review phase.

GPS III will improve position, navigation and timing services and provide advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability. The team is working under a $3 B Development and Production contract awarded in May 2008 to produce up to 12 GPS IIIA satellites, with first launch projected for 2014.

The next generation GPS IIIA satellites will deliver significant improvements over current GPS space vehicles, including a new international civil signal (L1C) and increased M-Code anti-jam power with full earth coverage for military users.

Through precision location and timing information, the GPS constellation provides critical situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military and supports a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions, including air traffic control, ATM banking and the Internet. 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.