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The U.S. Air Force's first GPS III satellite, GPS III Space Vehicle 1 (GPS III SV01), has finished all space vehicle functional testing and been placed into storage ahead of its launch. GPS III is in full production, with 10 satellites under contract, at Lockheed Martin's GPS III Processing Facility near Denver. Photo: Lockheed Martin. (Click image to enlarge.)

Air Force’s First GPS III Satellite Receives Commands from OCX Ground Control Segment

GPS III and OCX Successfully Complete Factory Mission Readiness Test
December 14, 2017

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The first advanced GPS III satellite successfully established remote connectivity and communicated with the Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX), further validating the U.S. Air Force’s modernized Global Positioning System (GPS) is ready to launch its first satellite.

On November 2, 2017, GPS III Space Vehicle 01 (GPS III SV01), the first of 10 GPS III satellites designed by Lockheed Martin, and OCX, being developed by Raytheon Corporation, successfully completed Factory Mission Readiness Testing (FMRT).

“Various command signals were sent from OCX to GPS IIII SV01 during FMRT, including those that initialize the spacecraft after it separates from the launch vehicle, simulated orbit raising maneuver sequences, deployments of the solar arrays, and initialization of the navigation payload,” Lockheed Martin spokesperson Chip Eschenfelder, Communications Lead, Military Space told Inside GNSS. “Additionally, the satellite transmitted its telemetry back to OCX, which was successfully able to receive and process the spacecraft telemetry thereby demonstrating compatibility between the Space and Control Segments.”

The FMRT validated the command and control interaction between GPS III and the OCX’s Launch and Checkout System (LCS) through a simulated full launch and early orbit mission event sequence. 

During this end-to-end system demonstration, command signals were sent from the latest OCX LCS software installed at Lockheed Martin’s Launch and Check Out Capability node in Denver to Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. From there, the commands were uplinked back to the GPS III SV01 satellite, currently awaiting a call up for launch at Lockheed Martin.

“During FMRT, GPS III SV01 received and successfully processed OCX commands that are routinely sent during launch, transfer orbit maneuvers, deployments and payload initialization,” said Mark Stewart, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for Navigation Systems in a press release. “We thoroughly tested the first GPS III satellite just like we are going to fly it in 2018.”

GPS III SV01 and OCX first “talked” to each other during a link check on October 3, 2017. 

“This was the first time the launch and checkout system directly interfaced with the GPS III satellite,” said Bill Sullivan, vice president of Raytheon’s GPS OCX program. “We’re making consistent, steady progress, and that’s driving us toward a successful launch next year.”

The demo further verifies the space-to-ground compatibility between GPS III satellites and OCX. During a 2013 Compatibility & Integration test, Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Nonflight Satellite Testbed (GNST) – a full-sized, functional satellite prototype – also connected with and received commands from an earlier version of Raytheon’s OCX LCS software.

“During nine days of FMRT testing, we executed the entire mission event sequence, which encompasses everything from when the spacecraft separates from the launch vehicle and concludes when the satellite reaches its designated orbital slot,”  Eschenfelder said. “The commands were representative of what we will send during the actual mission.”

Examples include initializing the Attitude Control Subsystem software, configuring the spacecraft’s Thermal Control Subsystem to maintain a safe thermal environment, performing orbit raising maneuvers, and deploying the solar arrays.

On September 22, 2017, the Air Force declared GPS III SV01 “Available for Launch,” with launch expected in 2018. The successful FMRT was the final validation that GPS III SV01 is ready to be shipped to the launch pad.

GPS III will reportedly 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 to be interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems, like Galileo.

OCX is designed to revolutionize GPS command and control and mission management capabilities. It will control all legacy and new signals, provide protection against evolving cyber threats, and reduce operation and sustainment costs through efficient software architecture, automation and performance-based logistics. OCX represents a quantum leap in capabilities over the current system, providing flexibility and adaptability to meet future GPS mission needs. 

The GPS III and OCX teams are led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.

NEC’s System Invariant Analysis Technology
In related news, Lockheed Martin and NEC Corporation today announced that Lockheed Martin will use NEC’s System Invariant Analysis Technology (SIAT) in the space domain.

SIAT’s advanced analytics engine uses data collected from sensors to learn the behavior of systems, including computer systems, power plants, factories and buildings, enabling the system itself to automatically detect inconsistencies and prescribe resolutions.

NEC’s advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities and Lockheed Martin’s space domain expertise offer new opportunities in developing enhanced integrated satellite and spacecraft operations with uniquely developed prescriptive analytics. These include rapid assessments of changes in performance and the space environment, such as the potential influence of space weather on electronics. With this information, operators can improve product performance and lifecycle efficiency.

“Lockheed Martin and NEC are experts in space and systems, and that’s the right blend to explore how AI can improve space products for astronauts and people on the ground,” said Carl Marchetto, vice president of New Ventures at Lockheed Martin Space. “AI can revolutionize how we use information from space, both in orbit and on deep space missions, including crewed missions to Mars and beyond.”

“The innovative SIAT developed by NEC can make valuable contributions to solving the challenges faced by Lockheed Martin in the space field,” said Tomoyasu Nishimura, senior vice president, NEC Corporation. “Going forward, NEC aims to continue strengthening this solution and to globally support safety, security and operational efficiency in a wide variety of fields.”

“It is an honor to see NEC’s SIAT being used by Lockheed Martin, one of America’s leading space innovators,” said Masahiro (Mark) Ikeno, president and CEO, NEC Corporation of America. “We are confident in SIAT’s ability to contribute to the reliability, safety and security of Lockheed Martin’s developments in the space field.”

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