The modernized Global Positioning System Block IIR (GPS IIR-M) satellite, launched from Cape Canaveral on Oct. 17, has been declared fully operational for military and civilian navigation users around the globe, following a successful on-orbit checkout by a combined U.S. Air Force/Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] team.
The satellite, designated GPS IIR-17M, is the fourth in a series of eight Block IIR-M satellites that bring new capabilities to military and civilian users of the GPS system. Each GPS IIR-M satellite features a modernized antenna panel that provides increased signal power to receivers on the ground, two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military, and a second civil signal that will provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency.
"With a disciplined approach, proven processes and a strong industry-government partnership, the team once again demonstrated its ability to rapidly move another high-performance GPS IIR-M spacecraft into operations for the user," said Don DeGryse, Lockheed Martin's vice president of Navigation Systems.
Lockheed Martin's operations team conducted the on-orbit deployment and checkout of all spacecraft systems in just over six days, allowing Air Force Space Command's 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2 SOPS) based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., to conduct the navigation payload initialization. The satellite was subsequently declared operational on Oct. 31 for both civil and military users.
"The team's focus on operational excellence and mission success is at the heart of this program and we look forward to working side by side with our customer to sustain this critical system for military and civil users worldwide," added DeGryse.
The satellite joins three IIR-M satellites and 12 other operational Block IIR satellites within the current 28-spacecraft constellation. The team is currently preparing the fifth GPS IIR-M satellite for its scheduled launch on Dec. 20, 2007 from Cape Canaveral.
The Global Positioning Systems Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. , is planning to launch the three remaining GPS IIR-M satellites next year, one of which will include a new demonstration payload that will temporarily transmit a third civil signal, known as L5.
The Global Positioning System enables properly equipped users to determine precise time and velocity and worldwide latitude, longitude and altitude to within a few meters.
Lockheed Martin is also leading a team which includes ITT and General Dynamics in the competition to build the U.S. Air Force's next-generation Global Positioning System, GPS Block III. The next-generation program will improve position, navigation, and timing services for the warfighter and civil users worldwide and provide advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding improved system security, accuracy and reliability.
A multi-billion dollar development contract is scheduled to be awarded by the Global Positioning Systems Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. in early 2008.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2006 sales of $39.6 billion.