GPS III Launch-Readiness Exercise Held

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon said they’ve successfully completed the first launch-readiness exercise for the Air Force’s next-generation GPS III satellites. Held over a three-day period, mission operations personnel validated the basic satellite command and control functions, tested the software and hardware interfaces, and demonstrated basic on-console procedures for contacts with a GPS III spacecraft during its launch and early on-orbit phase, states Lockheed Martin’s Sept. 5 release. Lockheed Martin is supplying the GPS III satellites, while Raytheon is developing the next-generation, ground-based GPS operational control system, known as OCX. The exercise’s completion is “a solid indictor that our space and ground segments are well synchronized,” said Col Bernie Gruber, head of the Air Force’s GPS directorate at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. The Air Force wants the first GPS III satellite available for launch in 2014.The service tasked the companies in January to ensure the satellite-OCX synchronization.