Category Archives: Space

Vertical Satellite Launch

Lockheed Martin has contracted ABL Space Systems, of El Segundo, California, a developer of low-cost launch vehicles and launch systems for the small satellite industry, to supply a rocket and associated launch services for the company’s first UK vertical satellite launch.

ABL Space Systems
Lockheed Martin has contracted ABL Space Systems as its launch provider for the company’s UK Pathfinder Launch project, planned to be the first-ever vertical small satellite launch from UK soil, from Scotland in 2022

The project known as UK Pathfinder Launch is planned to be the first ever vertical small satellite launch from UK soil, from Scotland in 2022. It will also be the first UK commercial launch for U.S.-based ABL Space Systems’ new RS1 rocket.

Nik Smith, Regional Director, Lockheed Martin Space, said: «We are absolutely committed to the success of this programme and the world class capability that ABL Space Systems brings will allow us to build on our long-standing partnership with the UK and strengthen the growth of the UK space sector, aligned to the UK Government’s prosperity and industrial strategy».

ABL Space Systems’ flexible, integrated GSO launch system, and RS1 rocket, allows for a rapid and cost-effective deployment with outstanding launch performance.

«ABL Space Systems is proud to partner with Lockheed Martin on the UK Pathfinder Launch Program», said Harry O’Hanley, co-Founder and CEO of ABL Space Systems. «Our team was founded to deliver new launch capabilities, on-demand. We’re thrilled at the opportunity bring our system to Shetland’s launch site and execute this ground-breaking mission with our partners».

Lockheed Martin’s UK Pathfinder Launch supports the UK Space Agency’s commercial spaceflight programme – Launch UK. In October, the UK Space Agency confirmed Lockheed Martin’s plans to move its programme to the Shetland Space Centre and in January, planning proposals were submitted for the space launch facility in Unst.

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO, UK Space Agency said: «We want the UK to be the first in Europe to launch small satellites into orbit, attracting innovative businesses from all over the world, accelerating the development of new technologies and creating hundreds of high-skilled jobs across the whole of the UK. Lockheed Martin’s selection of ABL Space Systems for their UK Pathfinder launch brings us one step closer to realising this ambition – putting the UK firmly on the map as Europe’s leading small satellite launch destination. In this challenging time, it’s more important than ever that we support technologies that will help create jobs and economic growth, enabling people and businesses across the country to benefit from the commercial opportunities offered by the UK’s growing space sector and the many firms throughout its supply chain».

The addition of ABL Space Systems as a partner completes Lockheed Martin’s UK Pathfinder Launch programme team. On launch day, ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket will lift off from Shetland Space Centre, in Unst, Shetland, the UK’s most northerly island. Once in orbit, the rocket will release a small launch orbital manoeuvring vehicle, an agile platform built by MOOG, in Reading, UK, which can carry and deploy up to six 6U CubeSats, optimising orbital placement and timing for each small satellite’s respective missions.

To demonstrate the full value of this new UK space transportation capability, two of the CubeSats deployed will be Lockheed Martin’s own technology demonstration spacecraft.

In 2019, ABL Space Systems announced that it had received a strategic investment from Lockheed Martin Ventures to advance the launch provider’s development and test programme.

European Service Module

The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a further contract with Airbus for the construction of three more European Service Modules (ESM) for Orion, the American crewed spacecraft for the Artemis programme.

European Service Module (ESM)
Airbus wins ESA contract for three more European Service Modules for NASA’s Orion spacecraft

With these additional Service Modules, ESA ensures continuity in NASA’s Artemis programme beyond the three modules which are already under contract with Airbus. The European Service Module will be used to fly astronauts to the Moon. As the powerhouse of the new Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis missions, it will provide critical functions such as the propulsion system to get the astronauts to the Moon, and the consumables the astronauts need to stay alive.

«Europe has entered a new decade of exploration. Building six Orion European Service Modules is a venture like no other. Airbus has some of the world’s best minds in space exploration working on this phenomenal vehicle and this new agreement will facilitate many future Moon missions through international partnerships», said Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus. «Europe is a strong and reliable partner in NASA’s Artemis missions and the Orion European Service Module represents a crucial contribution to this».

David Parker, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, said: «This contract doubles Europe’s commitment to delivering the vital hardware to send humankind to the Moon on Orion. Together with the elements we are building for the lunar Gateway we are guaranteeing seats for ESA astronauts to explore our Solar System as well as securing employment and technological know-how for Europe».

The ESM is cylindrical in shape and about four metres in diameter and height. It has four solar arrays (19 metres across when unfurled) that generate enough energy to power two households. The service module’s 8.6 tonnes of fuel can power one main engine and 32 smaller thrusters. The ESM weighs a total of just over 13 tonnes. In addition to its function as the main propulsion system for the Orion spacecraft, the ESM will be responsible for orbital manoeuvring and position control. It also provides the crew with the central elements of life support such as water and oxygen, and regulates thermal control while attached to the crew module.

Artemis I, the first non-crewed Orion test flight with a European Service Module will fly in 2021. It is as part of the following mission, Artemis II that the first astronauts will then fly around the Moon and back to Earth. With Artemis III, NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. The ESMs announced today will be used for the Artemis IV to VI missions, the first two of which are part of the European contribution to the international Gateway planned to be assembled starting from 2024 in a lunar orbit.

During the development and construction of the ESM, Airbus has drawn on its experience as prime contractor for ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which provided the crew on board the International Space Station with regular deliveries of test equipment, spare parts, food, air, water and fuel.

Moon Cruiser

Airbus has been awarded a CLTV (Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle) study for a «Moon Cruiser» by the European Space Agency (ESA). According to the study concept (two parallel Phase A/B1), the CLTV is a versatile, autonomous logistics vehicle that could, for example, provide timely and efficient support to NASA and ESA in the implementation of the future Artemis Moon missions. The spacecraft will be based on existing and proven technologies and will complement the multipurpose European Large Logistic Lander (EL3).

CLTV (Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle)
Versatile, autonomous logistics vehicle to support future lunar missions based on heritage from Orion ESM and ATV

The execution of lunar missions, including landing on the Moon and setting up upcoming lunar space station, Gateway, is a complex and challenging task for the international community. It requires a precisely planned chain of supply and logistics missions. The Airbus Moon Cruiser concept supports these challenges in several ways:

  • Gateway logistics: the CLTV can transport cargo or fuel for refuelling in lunar orbit and to the Gateway, the international project led by the two main contributors NASA (United States) and ESA (Europe), supporting a sustainable presence on the Moon and exploration beyond and a pillar of NASA’s Artemis programme.
  • Transfer of a large Lunar Module into Low Lunar Orbit: The CLTV is required to fly a lander or an ascent stage between the Gateway and the low lunar orbit, to perform landing and ascent missions with larger and more extensive services.
  • CLTV’s versatility will also allow it to support missions to post-ISS orbital infrastructure in LEO as well as missions in the field of GEO satcom servicing.

The CLTV’s design allows multiple mission types to be carried out with a single vehicle and is compatible with various launchers. Airbus’ solution is a mature, versatile and modular concept based on a large portfolio of mission and vehicle designs for Human Space-flight and Exploration built by Airbus for ESA including the Orion European Service Module (ESM), as well as five successful Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) space transporter missions, carrying a total of around 30 tonnes of cargo into space.

«With the Airbus Moon Cruiser concept for CLTV, we are establishing the first building blocks for humans and machines to work together all the way between the Earth and the Moon. CLTV can serve Gateway logistics and add value to the EL3 Large Lunar Lander by enabling additional missions, whether standalone for Europe or as part of wider international co-operation», said Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus.

The CLTV can be launched on Ariane 6, and it could transport a module of over 4.5 tonnes to the Gateway. The European Space Agency ESA could deploy the CLTV in the second half of the decade and it is planned that the CLTV will literally «cruise» on a direct flight path to the Moon.

The target is to validate the following, implementation phase (B2/C/D) of CLTV at the next Ministerial Council in 2022, with the aim of launching in 2027.

Airbus is building the European Service Module for ESA for the new NASA spacecraft Orion, the central spacecraft of future NASA space exploration. The first service module has already been delivered to NASA by Airbus. A second service module is currently being built at Airbus in Bremen. The first launch for Orion – a test flight without astronauts – will take Orion into a lunar orbit and back to Earth under the Artemis I mission and is scheduled for 2021.

Test of New Rocket

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) conducted a validation ground test of an extended length 63-inch-diameter/160-centimetre-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63XL) on January 21 in Promontory. This variation of the company’s GEM 63 strap-on booster was developed in partnership with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide additional lift capability to the Vulcan Centaur rocket.

GEM 63XL
Northrop Grumman conducted a validation test of its GEM 63XL rocket motor on January 21 at its Promontory, Utah, facility. The GEM 63XL will support the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle

«This new motor optimizes our best-in-class technologies and leverages flight-proven solid rocket propulsion designs to provide our customers with the most reliable product», said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. «Evolving the original GEM 63 design utilizes our decades of GEM strap-on booster expertise while enhancing capabilities for heavy-lift missions».

During today’s static test, the motor fired for approximately 90 seconds, producing nearly 449,000 pounds/203,663 kg of thrust to validate the performance capability of the motor design. Additionally, this firing verified the motor’s internal insulation, propellant grain, ballistics and nozzle in a hot-conditioned environment.

Northrop Grumman has supplied rocket propulsion to ULA and its heritage companies for a variety of launch vehicles since 1964. The GEM family of strap-on motors was developed starting in the early 1980s with the GEM 40 to support the Delta II launch vehicle. The company then followed with the GEM 46 for the Delta II Heavy, and the GEM 60, which flew 86 motors over 26 Delta IV launches before retiring in 2019. The first GEM 63 motors supported ULA’s Atlas V rocket in November 2020.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Ready For Its Mission

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is ready for its mission to the Moon. Lockheed Martin has completed assembly and testing of the Orion Artemis I spacecraft and has transferred possession to NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team on January 14, 2021. Assembled at Kennedy Space Center, the EGS team will then perform final preparations on the spacecraft for its mission to the Moon later this year.

Orion
The finished Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission was handed over for launch processing for a mission to the Moon later this year

 

Ready for the Moon

Orion is NASA’s new human-rated exploration-class spaceship that will take astronauts into deep space including the Moon and Mars. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for NASA and built the crew module, crew module adaptor and launch abort system. The European Space Agency provides the European Service Module for Orion.

The Artemis I mission will be the first launch of the Orion spacecraft aboard NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. Over the course of three weeks, the uncrewed Orion capsule will fly out and orbit the Moon and return to Earth. This test mission will validate the spacecraft, rocket and ground systems for future crewed missions.

«Orion is a unique and impressive spacecraft and the team did an outstanding job to get us to this day», said Mike Hawes, Orion vice president and program manager for Lockheed Martin. «The launch and flight of Artemis I will be an impressive sight, but more importantly it will confirm Orion is ready to safely carry humans to the Moon and back home. This tremendous advancement opens the door to a new era of deep space exploration that will ultimately benefit us back here on Earth».

Orion is being transferred from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy, where it was assembled, to multiple Kennedy facilities where EGS will load propellants and other consumables such as ammonia, helium and nitrogen, and integrate the launch abort system and protective ogive fairing. After this is completed, it will be taken to the Vertical Assembly Facility to be lifted onto the SLS rocket and prepared for roll to the launch pad.

 

Crewed Missions Underway

The launch later this year will be the beginning of many Artemis missions to the Moon. The next mission, Artemis II, will be the first with a crew onboard and will go out to orbit the Moon and return. That Orion crew module and service module adapter are well under assembly at Kennedy and will see its first power-on of its integrated computers this summer.

Artemis III will see the first woman and the next man to walk on the Moon. Orion will carry them out to orbit the Moon where they will ultimately land on the surface using a lunar landing system. That spacecraft is already under construction as major structural elements of the crew module pressure vessel are arriving at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility.

As part of an Orion production and operations contract, NASA ordered three Orion spacecraft from Lockheed Martin for Artemis missions III-V with plans to order three additional Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions VI-VIII and options for up to 12 missions.

Upper Stage

Boeing and NASA have successfully completed a critical design review for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Exploration Upper Stage (EUS), confirming the EUS design for continued development and transition to hardware build. Boeing has already started fabrication activities that will support building the first EUS at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Exploration Upper Stage (EUS)
This artist’s rendering shows the Boeing-built Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) powering the Orion crew vehicle in space after separation from the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s core stage. Boeing has already begun fabrication activities for the first EUS at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where the company also builds SLS core stages (Boeing illustration)

The SLS rocket uses staged propulsion to send NASA’s Orion spacecraft and astronauts, plus supplies, to the moon and beyond. The Boeing-built core stage powers the SLS in early flight, eventually separating when the upper stage takes over and provides the power to send crewed vehicles, space habitats and other payloads on to the moon or other deep space destinations.

To accomplish NASA’s Artemis I lunar mission, the Block 1 variant of SLS will use a Boeing/United Launch Alliance Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage with one RL-10 engine to take an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a test flight to the moon. SLS Block 1 rockets will be used for two subsequent crewed flights, including the first human mission to lunar orbit since the Apollo program.

The next version of SLS, Block 1B, will use EUS, which has larger fuel tanks and four RL-10 engines to give it a performance boost. That will allow SLS Block 1B to carry an Orion with a crew of four, as well as more than 10 metric tons of co-manifested payload.

«NASA’s SLS Block 1B with the EUS is capable of sending astronauts and essential supporting cargo to the moon and beyond», said Steve Snell, EUS program manager for Boeing. «EUS was designed for crewed flights from the beginning, and the additional lift capability that comes with the EUS requires fewer flights to enable a sustained human presence in deep space sooner and more safely».

«The moon is 238,000 miles/383,024 km from Earth, and Mars at its closest has been 35 million miles/56,327,040 km away», Snell added. «Transporting crews in the fewest flights, for shorter durations, is the safest approach to human deep-space travel. Only the EUS-powered SLS can carry the Orion, along with the necessary mission cargo, in one launch to the moon – or beyond».

Space Cockpit

On November 11, the United States Space Force (USSF) surpassed another milestone when it marked the one-year operational anniversary of the Space Cockpit.

Space Cockpit
Space Cockpit is a situational awareness tool that allows satellite operators to visualize the satellites they control in a real-time, video game-like application (U.S. Space Force graphic)

Space Cockpit is a situational awareness tool that allows satellite operators to visualize the satellites they control in a real-time, video game-like application. Originally commercial software, 1st Lieutenants Tory Smith and Jacqueline Cromer, Space Commercially Augmented Mission Platform (Space CAMP) software development leads, along with their product development team, spent months developing the software for Space Force professional’s use.

«Through their unique digital acumen and innovative thinking, Lieutenants Cromer and Smith set the gold standard for organic space software development», said Major General Kimberly Crider, USSF Chief Technology and Innovation Officer. «They exemplify the type of forward-leaning professionals we need to maintain our competitive advantage in the highly competitive and contested space domain».

Initial roll out to the field began November 11, 2019 to space professionals at Delta 6, offering an intuitive space domain visualization application to space operators that is updateable and customizable depending on the unique needs of the tactical user.

«It uses real, live location data for the satellites and simulates them in the application scene», said Cromer. «Operators can then go into the application to see where in space their satellites are, as well as quickly perform some actions in the application to see what other objects are around them and if there are threatening situations».

Originally geared towards Delta 6’s unique mission set that provides assured access to space through the $6.8 billion Air Force Satellite Control Network and defensive cyberspace capabilities for space mission systems, it has continued to evolve.

«Since then, development has continued to expand features to meet the needs of the Delta 6 operators. Additionally, it was introduced to other space operation groups enterprise-wide», said Smith.

The original version, dubbed The Predictive Interactive Groundstation Interface (PIGI), was introduced to the Department of the Air Force during a demonstration at Buckley Air Force Base (AFB), Colorado in 2019.

«After the successful demonstration, the project entered Phase II, which called for further development of the software for military use [which was] renamed Space Cockpit», said Smith.

During Phase II, the two lieutenants redeveloped the commercial software into something the USSF could use in daily space operations.

«Development began at Space CAMP in Colorado Springs in May 2019 taking some assets of PIGI, but with most of the work starting from the ground up following a user center design philosophy and adhering to DevSecOps (development, security and operations) methodologies», said Cromer.

Space CAMP is just one of many projects the U.S. Space Force has worked on with their private sector partners to further pursue the building of new acquisition authorities, enabling the Space Force to streamline requirements and outpace its adversaries.

Infrared System

December 2, 2020, Lockheed Martin announced the U.S. Space Force has determined the fifth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite (SBIRS GEO-5) is complete and ready for launch in 2021.

SBIRS GEO-5
Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS GEO-5 satellite, the first military space satellite built on a modernized LM 2100 combat bus, built in record speed, is ready for a 2021 launch

Built in a record time and at no additional cost to the government for the upgrade, SBIRS GEO-5 is the first military space satellite built on the company’s modernized, modular LM 2100 combat bus. SBIRS GEO-6, launching in 2022, is also being built on the new bus designed for speed and resilience.

«SBIRS’ role as an ever-present, on-orbit guardian against global ballistic missile threats has never been more critical», said Tom McCormick, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Systems. «In 2019 alone, SBIRS detected nearly one thousand missile launches, which is about a two-fold increase in two years».

«Completing the production of a complex missile-warning satellite during the challenging COVID environment is a huge accomplishment and is a testament to Lockheed Martin’s professionalism and dedication to the security of our Nation», said Captain Alec Cook, Space and Missile Systems Center’s SBIRS GEO-5/6 Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations lead.

Both SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6 are slated to join the U.S. Space Force’s constellation of missile warning satellites, equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors, which protect our nation 24-7. These sensors collect data that allow the U.S. military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense, expand technical intelligence gathering and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield.

SBIRS GEO-5 was officially completed on October 29, 2020.

 

LM 2100 Bus: Focuses on Speed and Resiliency

The LM 2100 bus is the result of a Lockheed Martin internally-funded, multi-year modernization initiative. It is designed to provide greater resiliency and cyber-hardening; enhanced spacecraft power, propulsion and electronics; common components and procedures to streamline manufacturing; and a flexible design that reduces the cost to incorporate future, modernized sensor suites.

«We added even further enhanced resiliency features to the LM 2100 to create an initial ‘combat bus’ for the Space Force. SBIRS GEO-5 has proven itself a valuable incremental step towards achieving the resilient missile warning that will be provided by the Next Gen OPIR Block 0 System, the follow-on to SBIRS», added McCormick.

In June 2015, the Air Force agreed to rebaseline SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6 to upgrade both satellites to Lockheed Martin’s modernized LM 2100 bus at no additional cost. From that point, SBIRS GEO-5 was completed in approximately five years, in line with the government’s need to increase production speed and address emerging threats, and still supporting the government’s original 2021 launch date.

Besides SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6, the LM 2100 space vehicle is the baseline for three Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO satellites expecting to launch starting in 2025; and the future GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) satellites, which are expected to launch starting in 2026.

Lockheed Martin is proud to be part of the SBIRS team led by the Production Corps, Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Division, at the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. Lockheed Martin Space, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Azusa, California, as the payload integrator.

Habitation Outpost

Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully completed its initial Preliminary Design Review (PDR) event for the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO). The module will serve as living quarters for astronauts at the Gateway during lunar exploration missions.

HALO module
Artist illustration of Northrop Grumman’s HALO module and the Power Propulsion Element which form the first critical component of NASA’s Gateway

The design for HALO is based on Northrop Grumman’s flight-proven Cygnus spacecraft, a human-capable vehicle that delivers supplies, equipment and experiments to the International Space Station. Design upgrades for HALO include command and control systems, as well as environmental control and life support systems.

«By basing the HALO module on Cygnus, we are able to deliver an affordable and reliable flight-proven product on an accelerated timeline», said Steve Krein, vice president, civil and commercial satellites, Northrop Grumman. «Maturing HALO through its preliminary design marks a major milestone in the module’s production».

The HALO module is key to NASA’s Lunar Gateway, serving both as a crew habitat and docking hub for vehicles navigating between Earth and the moon. With NASA’s Orion spacecraft docked, HALO will be able to sustain up to four astronauts for up to 30 days as they travel to and from the lunar surface.

Northrop Grumman’s work on HALO is a follow-on to the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships 2 (NextSTEP-2) program, where the company used virtual reality and 3-D printed models to support rapid prototyping of the NextSTEP-2 habitat modules.

In addition to HALO, Northrop Grumman is partnering on the Blue Origin-led human landing system team to develop the Human Landing System (HLS) for the Artemis program. Northrop Grumman will provide the Transfer Element vehicle that lowers the landing system into low lunar orbit. The company is also responsible for delivering boosters for the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion Ascent Abort System.

From the first lunar lander to the space shuttle boosters, to supplying the International Space Station with vital cargo, Northrop Grumman has pioneered new products and ideas that have been put into orbit, on the moon, and in deep space for more than 50 years. As a part of NASA’s Artemis program, we are building on our mission heritage with new innovations to enable NASA to return humans to the moon, with the ultimate goal of human exploration of Mars.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

GPS III Satellite

The fourth Lockheed Martin-built Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellite is now headed to orbit under its own propulsion. Following a successful launch earlier this evening, GPS III Space Vehicle 04 (GPS III SV04) separated from its rocket and is now using onboard power to climb to its operational orbit, approximately 12,550 miles above the Earth.

GPS III SV04
The fourth Lockheed Martin-built GPS III space vehicle (GPS III SV04) is now headed to orbit under its own propulsion

About 89 minutes after a 6:24 p.m. EST liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, U.S. Space Force and Lockheed Martin engineers at the company’s Denver Launch & Checkout Operations Center declared GPS III SV04 «separated» from its SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and «flying» under their control.

In the coming days, GPS III SV04’s onboard liquid apogee engine will continue to propel the satellite towards its operational orbit. Once it arrives, the engineers will send the satellite commands to deploy its solar arrays and antennas, and prepare GPS III SV04 for handover to Space Operations Command.

GPS III SV04 is the latest next-generation GPS III satellite Lockheed Martin designed and built to help the U.S. Space Force modernize today’s GPS satellite constellation with new technology and capabilities. GPS III satellites will provide significant capability improvements over previous GPS satellites, including:

  • Three times better accuracy;
  • Up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities; and
  • A new L1C civil signal, which is compatible with international global navigation satellite systems, like Europe’s Galileo, to improve civilian user connectivity.

GPS III SV04 will also be the 23rd Military Code (M-Code) signal-enabled GPS space vehicle on orbit, continuing the Space Force’s plan to fully field the more-secure, harder-to-jam and spoof GPS signal for military forces.

«With GPS III we are focused on rapidly fielding the best capabilities to the Space Force’s Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Mission», said Tonya Ladwig, Lockheed Martin’s Acting Vice President for Navigation Systems. «We are proud of our industry-government team on the launch of GPS III SV04. GPS III SV05 is already ‘available for launch’ and just waiting to be called up».

In early July, the Space Force also declared that the GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) program had fulfilled Milestone C, allowing the program to enter its production phase. GPS IIIF satellites will add even more capabilities, including:

  • A Regional Military Protection Capability, which will increase anti-jam support in theater to ensure U.S. and allied forces cannot be denied access to GPS in hostile environments;
  • An accuracy-enhancing laser retroreflector array;
  • A fully digital navigation payload; and
  • A new search and rescue payload.

«So many people rely on GPS every day. Continuing to invest in GPS by adding new capabilities like those coming with GPS III/IIIF will ensure GPS remains the world’s ‘gold standard’ for PNT and just makes sense», Ladwig added.

GPS is part of the U.S.’s critical national infrastructure, driving an estimated $300 billion in annual economic benefits and responsible for $1.4 trillion since its inception. Globally, more than four billion military, civil and commercial users depend on GPS’ positioning, navigation and timing signals.

Lockheed Martin is proud to be a part of the GPS III team led by the Space Production Corps Medium Earth Orbit Division, at the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base. The GPS Operational Control Segment sustainment is managed by the Enterprise Corps, GPS Sustainment Division at Peterson Air Force Base. The 2nd Space Operations Squadron, at Schriever Air Force Base, manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.