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2012-09-05 11:49:29

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Complete First Launch Exercise for Next Generation GPS Satellites

Raytheon Company and Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] have successfully completed the first launch readiness exercise for the U.S. Air Force’s next generation GPS III satellites. The exercise is a key milestone demonstrating the team remains on schedule to achieve launch availability in 2014.

The Lockheed Martin-built GPS III satellites and the Raytheon-developed next generation GPS operational control system, known as OCX, are critical elements of the U.S. Air Force’s effort to affordably replace aging GPS satellites while improving capability to meet the evolving demands of military, commercial and civilian users worldwide. This is the first space and ground enterprise successfully building the ground control and space vehicles by two independent prime contractors.

The launch readiness exercise, completed over a three day period by mission operations personnel, validated the basic satellite command and control functions, tested the software and hardware interfaces and demonstratedbasic on-console procedures required for space vehicle contacts during the launch and early orbit mission. The event sets the stage for the first GPS III satellite’s mission readiness timeline, which includes five short-duration exercises and six, five day mission rehearsals leading up to launch.

“Completion of our first GPS III launch readiness exercise is a major milestone for the entire GPS enterprise and is a solid indictor that our space and ground segments are well synchronized,” said Col Bernie Gruber, the director of the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning Systems Directorate.
To achieve first launch availability in the 2014 timeframe, the U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin and Raytheon contracts in January of this year to provide a Launch and Checkout Capability (LCC) for launch and early on-orbit testing of all GPS III satellites. At the heart of the LCC is Raytheon’s Launch and Checkout System that will provide satellite command and control capability, an integral part of OCX’s support of the first GPS III launch.

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



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