Air Force Awards Service Support Contract for GPS III SVs

Air Force Awards Service Support Contract for GPS III SVs

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.

Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will provide technical support to the Air Force’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS) and monitor the health and performance of the first two GPS III satellites from launch through their 15-year operational design lives.

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.

Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will provide technical support to the Air Force’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS) 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 (LCC) at Lockheed Martin’s Newtown, Pa., facility, which will provide the launch and checkout functionality required to meet availability for the first satellite in 2014. This award complements an $21.5-million contract announced early this year for Lockheed to provide an LCC capability that will be integrated into the Raytheon-developed next-generation operational control segment (OCX).

“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.”

The first and second GPS III satellites are on schedule to be available for launch in 2014 and 2015, respectively, although the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) has recently indicated that  the first launch probably will not occur until 2015.

“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 (GNST) 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.

Meanwhile, the Lockheed Martin-led team has completed a major integration and test event on the program’s satellite pathfinder, known as the GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST). The milestone is a key indication that the GPS III team is on track to deliver the first satellite for launch availability in 2014.

In Lockheed Martin’s new GPS Processing Facility (GPF), engineers successfully powered on the GNST with major elements of its Navigation Payload to include advanced atomic clocks for improved GPS accuracy, and the Mission Data Unit, the heart of the GPS III navigation payload. The test was completed in advance of integrating the full Navigation Payload Element, which is scheduled for delivery to the GPF this fall.

The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. 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 (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.

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