Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Global Positioning System satellites to be modernized
Posted: September 13, 2000

  GPS 2R
An artist's concept of a Lockheed Martin Space Systems-built GPS Block 2R satellite orbiting Earth. Photo: Lockheed Martin
The U.S. Air Force recently awarded Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, CA, a $53 million contract to begin development of modernization changes for up to 12 Global Positioning System (GPS) Block 2R satellites.

The GPS 2Rs will be modified to incorporate, among other improvements, a second civil signal and two new military signals, thus providing military and civilian users of the navigation system a system with improved capabilities much sooner than previously envisioned.

"This is tremendous news for the GPS team, Lockheed Martin and the entire GPS user community," said Len Kwiatkowski, Lockheed Martin vice president of Military Space Programs. "Lockheed Martin looks forward to continuing as a major contributor to the sustainment of GPS as the global standard for navigation and timing services."

In addition to new military and civilian signals, the GPS 2R modifications will include increased signal power and the ability to reprogram signals and power on orbit. These improvements will provide for improved accuracy and better resistance to jamming. Work on this development contract will be performed at the Space Systems -- Valley Forge, PA facility. Anticipated contract completion date is September 2001. The U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, El Segundo, CA, is the contracting agency.

GPS 2R program officials noted that a waveform generator, developed by ITT Industries, is a key element of the GPS IIR modernization. The generator adds a new military and civilian channel to the satellite using a single broadcast carrier wave. Additionally, a more efficient high power amplifier, controlled through the waveform generator, can add power to the military signal when there is a need to overcome jamming.

According to Dave Podlesney, Space Systems GPS 2R program manager, more than a year ago, senior-level Air Force personnel shared their plans to modernize the GPS. These modernization plans evolved and the Space Systems GPS team offered the Air Force an innovative approach to expediting the modernization.

Previously, the Air Force plan called for launching the remaining 16 GPS 2R satellites as a replenishment to the older Block 2A's now on orbit and then begin modernizing the GPS constellation in 2005. Under that plan, a fully modernized GPS constellation would not be on orbit until about 2015.

"Our team offered the Air Force a plan that will accelerate the GPS modernization program by approximately eight-plus years," said Podlesney. "I am extremely proud of the innovative proposal our team presented to our customer. This modernization program will benefit all users of the GPS system."

Space Systems is in the midst of a very successful launch campaign for the GPS 2R satellites. On July 16, 2000 the team successfully launched the fourth of 20 GPS 2R satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL. The next GPS 2R launch is tentatively scheduled for November. Additionally, the Space System's GPS team will submit a proposal to participate in an architecture study that will lead to a competition for the design and production of the next series of GPS spacecraft, referred to as GPS 3.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, headquartered in Denver, CO, is one of the major operating units of the world's largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space Systems is a global leader in the design, development, test and production of space launch systems, ground systems, scientific spacecraft, satellites for commercial and government customers, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.