1st Air Force GPS 3 Satellite Passes Functional Testing

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The first orbit-bound spacecraft in the U.S. Air Force’s next generation of positioning, navigation and timing satellites recently passed a series of key tests, the program’s prime contractor announced June 5.

Those tests, for the first GPS 3 satellite bus, included network communication equipment subsystem and bus subsystems such as guidance, navigation and control; command and data handling; on-board computer and flight software; environmental controls; and electrical power regulation, according to a press release from Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver.

“The successful completion of the [space vehicle] 1 bus functional check out validates that the spacecraft is now ready to begin the next sequence of payload integration and environmental testing, prior to delivery,” Keoki Jackson, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Navigation Systems mission area, said in the statement.

Later in the year, a navigation payload from ITT Exelis is expected to be delivered to Lockheed’s GPS satellite processing facility near Denver.

The satellite is expected to be delivered to the Air Force in 2014.

Currently the Air Force has eight GPS 3 satellites either fully or partially under contract with Lockheed Martin. In April, the company completed a preliminary design review for the ninth GPS 3 satellite.