Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin is continuing development work on the next-generation GPS III constellation. The company shipped the propulsion core for the A2100-based first GPS III satellite last week to the Denver facility where it will be integrated with other satellite components. The first power-on event for GPS III satellite 1 is slated for November, says Keoki Jackson, vice president of the navigation systems area for Lockheed Martin.
A production-representative pathfinder satellite already has been largely assembled, with electronics and the complete antenna panel. “We want to make sure we don’t learn anything for the first time on space vehicle one,” Jackson says. The inclusion of a pathfinder satellite, which will not fly, has contributed to a 70% reduction in cycle time to produce test scripts and procedures and a 33% reduction in the labor hours needed to install hardware for the first flyable satellite.
In April, the pathfinder will be shipped to Cape Canaveral so that operators there can run it through the prelaunch process for practice.
The first satellite is slated for launch availability in May 2014, with the second expected to launch about nine months later.
GPS III is being designed to a 15-year in-orbit life, and this satellite includes three rubidium clocks rather than the troublesome cesium design.