Satellite command and control capability demonstrated for GPS III and OCX

NEWTOWN, Pa. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon personnel finished the fourth of five planned launch and early orbit exercises for demonstrating new automation capabilities, launch readiness, and information assurance for the U.S. Air Force’s next generation GPS III satellite and Operational Control System (OCX).

This exercise demonstrated the end-to-end capability to automatically transfer data between the OCX -- from Raytheon -- and GPS III satellite -- from Lockheed Martin. One more readiness exercise, five launch rehearsals, and then a mission dress rehearsal are planned to happen before launching of the first GPS III satellite with OCX.

The latest baseline of Raytheon’s OCX Launch Checkout System (LCS) software was used in the exercise where it featured integrated information assurance functionality for the first time, and the latest version of Lockheed Martin’s GPS III satellite simulator. Also demonstrated were mission planning and scheduling capabilities with the simulated Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN), such as a replan scenario that would occur in the event of a launch slip.

The system also automatically generated antenna pointing angles for the simulated AFSCN, which had been manually generated. Exercise 4 expands on three previous exercises, introducing maneuver planning and reconstruction capabilities, as well as advanced planning and scheduling with AFSCN assets. The automation of these capabilities will enable GPS operators to spend their time optimizing system performance rather than focusing on routine operations.

GPS III satellites are expected to provide three times better accuracy and enable as much as eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities as well as include enhancements that extend spacecraft life to 15 years, 25 percent longer than the newest Block IIF satellites. The first GPS III satellite is now undergoing integration and testing, with final space vehicle delivery expected for late next year.

OCX is being produced in two blocks via a commercial best practice iterative software development process, with seven iterations in Block 1 and one iteration in Block 2. Exercise 4 was performed using the recently completed Iteration 1.5 software. Exercise 5, scheduled for next year, will have critical information assurance features necessary for supporting launch of the first GPS III satellite.

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’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Col., manages and operates the GPS constellation for military and civil users.