Launch Prep

The full-sized prototype of the Air Force’s GPS III satellite design arrived at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., to help technicians there prepare for the launch of the first GPS III satellite, announced prime contractor Lockheed Martin. A C-17 flew the GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed, or GNST, to the cape from Buckley AFB, Colo., on July 19, according to the company’s July 22 release. At the cape, the GNST will undergo the pre-launch testing that the GPS III satellites will face in coming years, states the release. The first GPS III satellite is expected to arrive at Cape Canaveral in 2014 for its anticipated launch in 2015, according to the company Lockheed Martin has already used the GNST at its facility in Denver to validate the integration, test, and environmental checkout that all GPS III spacecraft will undergo, thereby reducing program risk. “We call the GNST a ‘pathfinder’ because it has truly blazed the trail for every one of our GPS III processes,” said Keoki Jackson, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Navigation Systems. (See also Antennas Ready for First GPS III Satellite.)