Harris Corporation has provided Lockheed Martin with its fifth of 10 advanced navigation payloads contracted for the U.S. Air Force GPS III satellite program.
The GPS III navigation payload features a Mission Data Unit (MDU) with a unique 70-percent digital design that links atomic clocks, radiation-hardened computers and powerful transmitters – enabling signals three times more accurate than those on current GPS satellites. The payload also boosts satellite signal power, increases jamming resistance by eight times and helps extend the satellite’s lifespan, according to Harris Corporation.
Lockheed Martin successfully integrated the navigation payload into the fifth GPS III space vehicle (GPS III SV05). Harris is committed to delivering three more payloads by the first quarter of calendar year 2019 for GPS III SVs 06-08.
Four navigation payloads have already been fully integrated on GPS III SV01-SV04. In September 2017, the Air Force declared the first GPS III satellite Available for Launch, or “AFL,” with launch expected later in 2018. In December 2017, GPS III SV02 completed rigorous thermal vacuum testing and is expected to be declared AFL this summer. GPS III SV03 and SV04 are expected to undergo environmental testing this year.
In November 2017, Harris announced that it completed development of an even more-powerful, fully digital MDU for the Air Force’s GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) program. The new GPS IIIF payload design will further enhance the satellite’s capabilities and performance for the Air Force.
Harris’ expertise in creating and sending GPS signals extends back to the mid-1970s – providing navigation technology for every U.S. GPS satellite ever launched. While the Air Force originally developed GPS for warfighters, millions of people around the world and billions of dollars of commerce now depend on the accurate, reliable signal created and sent by Harris navigation technology.
Harris is under contract with Lockheed Martin for the 10 GPS III navigation payloads. The first payload is fully integrated on the U.S. Air Force’s first GPS III satellite, GPS III SV01, which was declared Available for Launch in September, with an expected launch in 2018. The payload moved flawlessly through space vehicle integration and test – exceeding specification requirements.