GPS III satellites at Lockheed Martin's processing facility. (Business Wire)
Lockheed Martin has integrated the fifth of ten Harris Corporation-produced advanced navigation payloads into its corresponding space vehicle (SV) as contracted for the U.S. Air Force GPS III satellite program.
The GPS III navigation payload features a Mission Data Unit (MDU) with a unique 70% digital design that links atomic clocks, radiation-hardened computers and powerful transmitters – enabling signals three times more accurate than those on current GPS satellites. The payload also boosts satellite signal power, increases jamming resistance by eight times and helping to extend the satellite’s lifespan.
Harris has committed to deliver three more payloads by the first quarter of calendar year 2019 for GPS III SVs 06-08. The first four navigation payloads have already been integrated.
In September 2017, the Air Force declared the first GPS III satellite available for launch, which is expected to happen later in 2018. Late last year, GPS III SV02 completed rigorous thermal vacuum testing and is expected to be declared AFL this summer. GPS III SV03 and SV04 are expected to undergo environmental testing this year.
In November 2017, Harris announced that it completed development of an even more-powerful, fully digital MDU for the Air Force’s GPS III follow-on program. The new payload design will further enhance the satellite’s capabilities and performance for the Air Force.