The U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $68 million contract to provide mission readiness, launch, early orbit checkout and on-orbit operations engineering support for the first two GPS III space vehicles.
The first and second GPS III satellites are on schedule for launch availability in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
The GPS III program will affordably replace aging GPS satellites while improving capability to meet the evolving demands of military, commercial and civilian users worldwide. GPS III satellites will provide for increased accuracy and anti-jamming power while enhancing the spacecraft’s design life and adding a new civil signal designed to be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems.
Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will provide technical support to the Air Force’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron and monitor the health and performance of the first two GPS III satellites from launch through their 15 year operational design lives. The contract will also support the operations of the Launch and Checkout Capability at Lockheed Martin’s Newtown, Penn., facility, which will provide the launch and checkout functionality required to meet availability for the first satellite in 2014.
“The GPS III flight operations contract along with the Launch and Checkout Capability will better synchronize our GPS control and space segments to support the first launch of a GPS III satellite and ensure mission success,” said Capt. Alex Rawling, the Air Force’s GPS III Launch Operations lead. “We are focused on delivering the critical GPS III capabilities to users as efficiently and affordably as possible.”
“Production of the first two GPS III satellites is progressing well and the flight operations contract will allow our team to ensure the satellites perform as planned throughout their mission lives,” said Karen Gauthier, Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Operations and Sustainment program manager. “As we near our first launch exercise in August of this year, we are committed to delivering GPS III affordably and efficiently to meet the growing demand for GPS services worldwide.”
In 2008, Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract for the design, development and production of the GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed and the first two GPS III satellites, with priced options for up to 10 additional satellites. In early 2012, the Air Force exercised a $238 million option for production of the next two satellites, GPS III space vehicles three and four. The Air Force plans to purchase up to 32 GPS III satellites.
The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB, Calif. Lockheed Martin is the GPS III prime contractor with teammates ITT Exelis, General Dynamics, Infinity Systems Engineering, Honeywell, ATK and other subcontractors. Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron, based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.