By Andy Choi
Lockheed Martin has triumphantly finished on time, a System Design Review (SDR) for the GPS IIIB satellite under the next generation GPS III Program for the US Air Force.
The GPS III would offer advanced anti-jam abilities leading to superior system reliability, accuracy and security along with improved navigation timing and position services for users world-wide.
As per the contract, Lockheed Martin Space System is to produce the first two of the total 8 GPS IIIA satellites, and the first of them is planned to be launched by 2014. The contract also includes a Capability Insertion Program (CIP) created to mature technologies and also execute meticulous systems engineering for the future GPS III increments. The GPS IIIB SDR is an important milestone preceding the Preliminary Design Review, which would establish requirements for the CIP for the follow-on GPS IIIB satellites and this validated satellite design would meet the rising demands of the one billion or more GPS users from all over the world.
Lt. Col. Don Frew, who is the Program Manager of the US Air Force’s GPS III Program states that this milestone had come at a time when the need for enhancing the GPS constellation’s abilities was at the maximum. Due to the hard work carried out by industry, GPS III team and the entire government, a new low risk and solid path has been created for the introduction of critical capabilities to the GPS users in Civil, Commercial and Military sectors.
The GPS IIIA would provide three times more power for the military users and also deliver signals with thrice the accuracy of the current GPS spacecrafts. It would also improve the design life of the spacecraft and also add a new civil signal, which would be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems. A completely digital navigation payload, which would generate new navigation signals after launching a higher power modernized signals and also a Distress Alerting Satellite System Payload for relaying distress signals from emergency beacon systems to the rescue and search operations.