The most powerful Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites ever designed and built for the U.S. Air Force are expected to begin launching in 2018. Lockheed Martin’s GPS III satellites will have three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities. Spacecraft life will extend to 15 years, 25 percent longer than the newest GPS satellites on-orbit today. GPS III’s new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite broadcasting a compatible signal with other international global navigation satellite systems, like Galileo, improving connectivity for civilian users.
Today, Lockheed Martin is contracted for and is assembling 10 GPS III satellites at the company’s nearly 40,000 sq. ft. GPS III Processing Facility near Denver, Colorado. The $128 million, state-of-the-art, manufacturing factory was designed in a virtual reality environment to maximize production effectiveness and efficiency. Opened in 2011, the GPF includes a specialized cleanroom and test chambers designed to streamline satellite production. Lockheed Martin is focused on providing the Air Force an affordable, resilient, low-risk GPS III solution.
As new technology emerges, or as the Air Force’s mission needs change, Lockheed Martin’s unique GPS III satellite was designed with a flexible, modular architecture to allow for the straight-forward, low-risk insertion of new capabilities.
The satellite’s design already incorporates the Air Force’s next GPS III satellite acquisition requirement for a Laser Retro-reflector Array and Search & Rescue payloads. Both of these were proven to preliminary design levels in 2013 and significant strides have already been made for Regional Military Protection (RMP).
Additionally, all future Lockheed Martin GPS III satellites have validated compatibility with the next generation Operational Control System (OCX) and the existing GPS constellation, significantly mitigating risks from adding GPS III to the constellation.