sexta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2011

The USA’s GPS-III Satellites

The USA’s GPS-III Satellites
Oct 13, 2011 10:57 EDT

Disruption or decay of the critical capabilities provided by the USA’s Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites would cripple both the US military, and many aspects of the global economy. GPS has become part of civilian life in ways that go go far beyond those handy driving maps, including timing services for stock trades, and a key role in credit card processing. At the same time, military class (M-code) GPS guidance can now be found in everything from cruise missiles and various precision-guided bombs, to battlefield rockets and even artillery shells. Combat search and rescue radios rely on this line of communication, and so does a broadening array of individual soldier equipment.

GPS-III satellites are a key part of this PTN (Positioning, Timing & Navigation) system’s future plan, offering several improvements over the existing GPS II family. This DII FOCUS article looks at the existing constellation, GPS-III improvements, the program’s structure, its progress through contracts and key milestones, and additional research links…

GPS: The Existing Array
The GPS III Program [updated]
GPS-III: Contracts and Key Events [updated]
Additional Research

GPS: The Existing Array

The GPS constellation needs to contain at least 24 evenly spaced satellites, though 27 is preferred in order to maintain proper coverage around the globe from Medium Earth Orbit. USAF Space Command wants to have at least 30, in order to ensure that a quick series of on-orbit satellite failures, or problems caused by that orbit’s somewhat “dirty” status, don’t drop the constellation below 27. Those failures are possible, as a look at the current constellation demonstrates. In 2008, there were 31 GPS satellites:

13 Block IIAs. Intended design life: 7.5 years. Due to good design, redundant components, and clever adjustments, these satellites have lasted significantly longer than that; the record is about 17 years.

12 Block IIRs. Intended design life: 10 years. At least one satellite is already beyond that. 21 GPS IIRs were built, of which 8 were modernized to GPS IIR-M status.

6 upgraded Block IIR-Ms. Each IIR-M satellite includes a modernized antenna panel that provides increased signal power, 2 new military signals for improved accuracy to within 1 meter, enhanced military encryption and anti-jamming capabilities, and a 2nd civil signal (L2C) that will provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency. The additional signals make a difference, because it allows receivers to see the error created by the Earth’s ionosphere, and use advanced algorithms to refine positioning accuracy on that basis.

The final 2 GPS IIR-M launches were put on “indefinite hold” in October 2008, due to issues with the Delta II launch rocket, but the 7th GPS IIR-M was launched in March 2009, and the 8th and final GPS IIR-M was launched in August 2009.

The next set of launches after that will involve Boeing’s Block IIF satellites. Their improvements will include architecture updates, power, processor, and weight improvements, a 3rd civil signal (L5) in the aviation protection spectrum, which is expected to enable more widespread use of GPS for civil aviation air traffic control, and operational capability for a new military signal.

An updated ground control segment known as the Architectural Evolution Plan is also proceeding. On the control side, AEP adds a new Master Control Station at Schriever AFB, CO, and an alternate station at Vandenberg AFB, CA. More ground antennas have been added to control GPS satellites by using USAFSCN remote tracking stations, and monitoring was improved by cooperating with the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s MS network. With respect to its technical back end, AEP is designed to move control of the constellation off of 1970s-era mainframe computer systems, and onto a modern graphical interface. It will also add a distributed architecture that can run parallel applications, instead of putting everything in a single queue.

AEP first became operational in September 2007, and added the capability to control Block IIF satellites in March 2008. Nevertheless, it’s an interim solution with key limitations. It cannot put a navigation message onto, or control, modernized signals like the civil L2C, or the GPS IIR/M’s dedicated military coded signal. Nor will it be able keep up with growing demands for improved situational awareness and other required evolutions. That’s why it was considered for GPS III control, but rejected.

The GPS III Program

When fully deployed, the current vision for GPS-III is that the new satellites will feature a new L1C civil signal; a cross-linked command and control architecture that allows the entire GPS constellation to be updated from a single ground station; and a spot beam antenna that provides resistance to hostile military jamming while improving accuracy and integrity. GPS III will also have limited interoperability with Europe’s ongoing Galileo GPS-type satellite constellation, per a 2006 agreement involving Lockheed Martin and EADS.

The USAF has had issues with over-budget satellite programs in the past, in part because the technology requirements were often leaping ahead on too many fronts at once. This is a natural response to systems with a satellite’s large launch costs and long life cycle, but the lagging launch schedules and liberal cost overruns were becoming limiting. GPS III incorporates these lessons, and will be set up as an incremental acquisition, with a ground segment and 3 blocks of investment and inserts:

GPS Block III satellites are larger than previous Navstar buses, which allows more power, which in turn creates a signal that’s easier to acquire and harder to jam. The initial GPS IIIA satellites will feature agreed-upon compatibility with Europe’s rival Galileo system, add a 4th civil signal (L1C), and add a stronger military GPS (m-code) signal that’s expected to deliver fourfold accuracy improvements and an order of magnitude improvement in anti-jam capability. These simple requirements ensure that older GPS-IIA satellites can quickly be replaced by the newest proven designs. The USAF would like to cap GPS IIIA satellites at 8 (2 R&D + 6 operational, all 8 will be launched), but the initial contract has provisions for up to 12 GPS-IIIA satellites if necessary.

GPS Block IIIB satellites will add a cross-linked command and control architecture. In English, this means that the entire constellation of GPS IIIB+ satellites will be updated at once from a single ground station, instead of having to wait for each satellite to orbit in view of a ground antenna as is currently the case. Up to 8 GPS-IIIB satellites are slated for launch.

GPS Block IIIC satellites will add a high-powered spot beam to deliver greater M-Code power, better resistance to hostile jamming, and improved accuracy. Other technologies that become mature during the development period could also be added. The USAF intends to launch up to 16 GPS-IIIC satellites.

The first launch of a GPS-IIIA satellite is expected in 2014, with all 32 GPS Block III satellites expected to be on orbit by 2022.

The current GPS III system design and development contract award will create about 500 new jobs for Lockheed Martin, and about 750 layoffs at Boeing. A May 2008 National Examiner article places the total program value at around $3.57 billion over all 3 increments.

Lockheed Martin’s program management and spacecraft development effort will be centered in Newtown, PA, with final assembly, integration and test located in Denver, CO. The company’s Sunnyvale, CA operations will provide various spacecraft components, and a launch support team will be based at Cape Canaveral, FL. Lockheed Martin’s GPS-III partners include:

ITT in Clifton, NJ – Navigation payload
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Gilbert, AZ – Network Communications Element (NCE), which includes the UHF Crosslink and Tracking Telemetry & Command (TT&C) subsystems.

OCX: New Ground Control

These systems will be accompanied by a next-generation global positioning system control segment (GPS OCX) intended to control both GPS II and GPS III satellites. OCX will deliver new GPS mission planning, constellation management, ground antenna, monitoring station, and satellite command and control capabilities, using open architecture electronics that allow faster improvements, and a service-oriented software architecture for much faster incorporation of its capabilities into other systems. Block I will also incorporate the new M-code military GPS signal.

The previous ground control segment incumbents both joined new bidding teams: Boeing bid as part of Raytheon’s team, while Lockheed Martin joined Northrop Grumman’s team in March 2008. Team Raytheon won the contract in 2010, which also includes:

Boeing (past incumbent for GPS control stations)
Braxton Technologies
Infinity Systems Engineering
ITT (Processing components, Precision monitor station receivers, partial System security design)
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
SRI International

Under the initial contract, they’ll develop and deliver control segment hardware at Schriever AFB, CO, and Vandenberg AFB, CA, and update up to 17 monitoring stations around the globe by October 2015. The goal is to reduce the sustainment cost by 27%, then boost those savings to 50% within 3 years.

OCX Block II, which will include the new L2C signals, is scheduled for 2016.

GPS-III Budgets

Exact figures are difficult, since the US military often treats GPS as a single program in its breakouts. These figures do not attempt to break out GPS-III.

FY 2008: $805.3 million – $556.4 million RDT&E, $248.9M procurement
FY 2009: $927.4 million – $867.1 RDT&E, $60.7M procurement
FY 2010: $880.4 million – $749.4M RDT&E, $131M procurement
FY 2011 Request: $1.057 billion – $862.7M RDT&E, $194.8M procurement
FY 2012 Request: $1.462 billion – $872.0M RDT&E, $590.0M procurement

GPS-III: Contracts and Key Events

USNO Atomic Clock
(click to view full)

Oct 10/11: Lockheed Martin announces that it has turned on initial power to GPS-III’s Non Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST). The GNST contains power subsystem components, harnesses, plus tracking, telemetry and control hardware. Flight software versions have also been delivered for all of the spacecraft and payload computer processors. In parallel, GPS III teammate ITT is integrating the GNST Navigation Payload at their facility in Clifton, NJ.

The GNST will be shipped to Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility in Denver before the end of 2011 to demonstrate Assembly, Integration and Test procedures. It will then be delivered to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the summer for 2012, for pathfinding activities at the launch site. Launch is currently scheduled for 2014.

Sept 26/11: Raytheon announces that its OCX control segment has been certified as completing its Preliminary Design Review.

Sept 6/11: Raytheon says that it has completed the action items that emerged from the USAF’s GPS-III OCX control segment’s June 2011 Preliminary Design Review.

Raytheon VP Bob Canty says that the design itself was assessed as architecturally and technically sound, adding that about 66% of the initial software is developed, but not all of it is tested. A good rule of thumb: until software is tested, it isn’t really developed. Aviation Week.

June 14/11: Layoffs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. this branch of the firm employs around 16,000 employees in 12 states, but intends to shed 1,200 employees by year-end, including a 25% cut in middle management to reduce impacts elsewhere. LMSS’ Sunnyvale, CA; Pennsylvania; and Denver, CO sites will be hardest hit, and the firm’s release says that it’s pushed in part by several of their major programs moving beyond the labor-intensive development phase.

Space Systems says it will offer “eligible” salaried employees an opportunity for a voluntary layoff, plus career transition support for all affected employees. Lockheed Martin.

March 15/11: Lockheed Martin announces that its GPS III team, has successfully completed the program’s first major flight software integration milestone, tying the initial flight software builds to the flight-like computer processors for the satellite bus On-Board Computer (OBC), the Navigation Payload Mission Data Unit (MDU), and the Communications Payload Thin Communications Unit (TCU).

The team at Lockheed’s software integration laboratory in Newtown, PA will now work to fully qualify the flight software, then load it on the GPS Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST). Meanwhile, the firm says that their team has completed more than 50% of the GPS-III program’s Manufacturing Readiness Reviews (MRRs), and remains on track to deliver the first GPS IIIA spacecraft as planned in 2014.

Jan 19/11: Raytheon touts its new El Segundo, CA GPS Collaboration Center, opening in February 2011. The 17,900-square-foot center will include an executive presentation room, state-of-the-art operations and demonstration areas, high-definition video-teleconferencing capabilities, and the ability to interact with the GPS OCX system in an operations-like environment. Raytheon VP and GPS OCX program manager Robert Canty:

“Through the center, Raytheon and Space and Missile Systems personnel will be able to collaborate with the Air Force and program partners via virtual demonstrations from Raytheon’s other program locations in Aurora, Colo., and the Network Integration and Experimentation Center in Rosslyn, Va.

The Raytheon GPS OCX team has completed Phase A of the program, and is on schedule to complete the Phase B preliminary design review in winter 2011.

Nov 2/10: Raytheon announces completion of the software specification review for the GPS advanced control (OCX) segment, which will provide command, control, and mission support for the GPS Block II and Block III family of satellites. The review includes several analyses: the architecture; operations concept; segment, prime mission and interface requirements; and allocation to the software requirements specifications, interface requirements specifications, and operational concept document.

The next step for the OCX segment is the Preliminary Design Review, scheduled for spring 2011.

Sept 28/10: Raytheon team completes integrated baseline review for the $886.4 million GPS advanced control segment (OCX), which will provide command, control and mission support for the GPS Block II and Block III family of satellites. The OCX system will include anti-jam capabilities and improved security, accuracy and reliability and will be based on a service-oriented architecture to integrate government and industry open-system standards (see Feb 25/10 entry).

Sept 15/10: The US GAO issues report #GAO-10-636, “Global Positioning System: Challenges in Sustaining and Upgrading Capabilities Persist.” Some excerpts:

“The Air Force continues to face challenges to launching its IIF and IIIA satellites as scheduled…. GPS IIIA appears to be on schedule and the Air Force continues to implement an approach intended to overcome the problems experienced with the IIF program. However, the IIIA schedule remains ambitious and could be affected by risks such as the program’s dependence on a ground system that will not be completed until after the first IIIA launch. The GPS constellation availability has improved, but in the longer term, a delay in the launch of the GPS IIIA satellites could still reduce the size of the constellation to fewer than 24 operational satellites [required for full global coverage]. Multiyear delays in the development of GPS ground control systems are extensive. In addition, although the Air Force has taken steps to enable quicker procurement of military GPS user equipment, there are significant challenges to its implementation…. GAO recommended last year in terms of establishing a single authority responsible for ensuring that all GPS segments are synchronized to the maximum extent practicable…. The GPS interagency requirements process… remains relatively untested and civil agencies continue to find the process confusing…. Challenges remain for the United States in ensuring that GPS is compatible with other new, potentially competing global space-based PNT systems.”

Sept 10/10: GPS-III’s 1st contract deliverable goes out ahead of schedule, as the GPS III Bus Real Time Simulator (BRTS) shipped from its Newtown, PA, facility to Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, CA. Acceptance testing for the BRTS was completed 7 days after delivery.

The BRTS is a risk reduction tool that will allow Aerospace Corporation to independently validate GPS III flight software for the USAF, as Lockheed Martin delivers bus flight software increments. Lockheed Martin.

Aug 31/10: As an example of the system-wide harmonization the GAO refers to, officials at Rockwell Collins successfully delivers 21 modernized receiver cards for the prototype ground-based GPS receiver application module under the GPS Wing’s Receiver Card Development program. These GB-GRAM-M receiver cards recently completed the contractor’s formal qualification testing, and have been delivered to support the GPS Wing’s developmental test phase.

Asked about this effort, the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center’s GPS Wing responds that the cards will take advantage of the new capabilities that the GPS-III satellites will provide, and the receiver receiver takes advantage of GPS-III changes to the Signal-in-Space but this is not part of the program directly.

The goal of their larger MUE program its part of is to demonstrate the critical technology needed to incorporate a new M-Code military signal and security architecture, using precision-encrypted Y-code, M-Code and coarse acquisition-code receivers that can process legacy signals as well. USAF.

Aug 20/10: Lockheed Martin announces that the GPS-III program has completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) phase 2 months ahead of the baseline schedule, after more than 350 representatives from the USAF GPS Wing, GPS III contractor team, and representatives from the Department of Defense, Air Force Space Command, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration participated in a 4-day Space Vehicle CDR at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company’s new Patriot Center in Newtown, PA.

Completing the CDR enables the GPS-III team to move forward into production, and Lockheed Martin says that the program is still on track for an initial GPS-IIIA launch in 2014. Lockheed Martin.

Aug 18/10: Honeywell announces that its GPS-III On Board Computer (OBC), Reaction Wheel Assembly (RWA) and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) have successfully completed Critical Design Reviews. The total contract value for these 3 sub-contracted components is more than $106 million through the life of the program.

Honeywell’s OBC is part of the telemetry, tracking and command subsystem, and runs flight software that provides attitude, power, and thermal control. It is the first radiation hardened high-speed processing system based on commercial PowerPC chip technology. Honeywell’s RWA provides momentum control for the space vehicle, which allows it to provide more accurate positioning. The IMU’s fiber optic gyroscopes provide attitude reference information for the space vehicle, extending mission capability by 50%. The RWA and IMU are part of the attitude control subsystem.

April 12/10: Boeing announces that it will develop portions of the U.S. Air Force’s new GPS OCX ground control segment, as a member of the Raytheon team. Boeing will provide infrastructure, development of the ground systems, and continued 24/7 operational and sustainment support, installing hardware and software at GPS control stations at Schriever AFB, CO; and Vandenberg AFB, CA.

Feb 25/10: Raytheon Co. in Aurora, CO won an $886.4 million contract to provide the GPS advanced control segment (GPS OCX), which will provide command, control and mission support for the GPS Block II and Block III family of satellites. The OCX development contract will be 73 months long, and will include development and installation of hardware and software at GPS control stations at Schriever AFB, CO and Vandenberg AFB, CA, deployment of advanced monitor stations at remote sites, and initial contractor support with sustainment options for 5 years. with If those sustainment options are exercised, the contract could be worth up to $1.535 billion.

The Raytheon team includes Boeing, ITT, Infinity Systems Engineering, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, SRI International and Braxton Technologies. ITT’s release sees their OCX contract as the continuation of an initial phase awarded in 2007, adding that ITT payloads have been on every GPS satellite ever launched, and have yet to experience a mission-related failure in orbit.

They beat out a Northrop Grumman-led team that included includes Lockheed Martin. The 55 CONS/LGCD at Offutt Air Force Base, NE manages the contract. Raytheon | Los Angeles AFB release | ITT release [PDF].

Feb 5/10: Boeing Co. in Seal Beach, CA received a $75.9 million contract to provide GPS IIF space vehicle, sustainment, and operational control segment support for calendar year 2010. GPS IIF is the latest version of the second-generation GPS system and the precursor for the GPS III constellation. At this time, $25 million has been obligated. The GPSW/PK in El Segundo, CA manages the contract (F04701-96-C-0025, P00532).

July 22/09: The U.S. House Appropriations Committee cut $97.4 million from President Obama’s FY10 request for $486.8 million for development of the GPS III operational control segment (OCX). The committee attributed the cut to a “GPS control segment contract delay.”

The two prime contractors under Phase A of the GPS OCX development are Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. Responding to the funding cut, Raytheon said it “is committed to burning down risk in our current Phase A activities and looking forward to receiving an award for the GPS OCX program Phase B activities later this year.” Northrop Grumman said, “We will work through any impacts this could potentially have to the program with the Air Force.” The Phase A contract expires in September 2009. Both companies are leading teams that are bidding on the Phase B work, which is expected to be awarded in the Q4 2009.

June 20/09: Northrop Grumman’s GPS OCX team submits its proposal to the U.S. Air Force for the single-winner OCX Phase B contract, after working in parallel with Raytheon’s team on the 22-month Phase A contract. Presumably, Raytheon also submits its proposal, but no announcement was made. NGC release.

May 21/09: Lockheed Martin announces that the GPS III team has successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) phase for the GPS III spacecraft segment. The milestone was the culmination of 70 subsystem and assembly PDRs that had been executed over the past 6 months by Lockheed Martin, ITT, and General Dynamics.

Nearly 150 representatives from the U.S. Air Force Global Positioning Systems Wing and user communities, including representatives from the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Space Command, the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Aviation Agency participated in the 4 day Space Vehicle PDR at Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities in Newtown, PA. The next major milestone is the Critical Design Review, and first launch is projected for 2014.

May 7/09: The US Government Accountability Office releases report #GAO-09-670T, “Global Positioning System: Significant Challenges in Sustaining and Upgrading Widely Used Capabilities.” The report questions the fundamental underpinnings of the GPS Block IIIA program:

“It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption…. the current IIF satellite program has overrun its original cost estimate by about $870 million and the launch of its first satellite has been delayed to November 2009 – almost 3 years late. (2) Further, while the Air Force is structuring the new GPS IIIA program to prevent mistakes made on the IIF program, the Air Force is aiming to deploy the next generation of GPS satellites 3 years faster than the IIF satellites. GAO’s analysis found that this schedule is optimistic, given the program’s late start, past trends in space acquisitions, and challenges facing the new contractor. Of particular concern is leadership for GPS acquisition, as GAO and other studies have found the lack of a single point of authority for space programs and frequent turnover in program managers have hampered requirements setting, funding stability, and resource allocation….”

April 21/09: Raytheon announces a $21.5 million contract extension to perform additional risk-reduction R&D for the next-generation Global Positioning System Operational Ground Control (OCX) segment. To date, the release maintains that the program remains on budget and ahead of schedule. Nevertheless, Bob Canty, Raytheon GPS OCX vice president and program manager:

“We are working with our customer to continue to reduce program risk to ensure that we have the lowest-risk program going forward. What’s critically important on this program is to be able to deliver our team’s commitments fully and on-time.”

See also SatNews.

March 31/09: The US GAO audit office delivers its 7th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. Despite GPS III’s status, it focuses instead on the prior GPS IIF program, including the interim Architectural Evolution Plan ground system upgrade:

“As a result of development and production problems, the program office now estimates the launch of the first Block IIF satellite will be delayed to October 2009 – almost 3 years later than its original launch date…. technical problems discovered during thermal vacuum testing resulted in additional schedule delays and cost increases on the program…. The Block IIF program is also experiencing other technical problems…. The delivery of the first AEP segment allowed for the transfer of operations of current GPS satellites from the existing ground control system. In March 2008, AEP was upgraded to add the capability to control Block IIF satellites… the development schedule for the final AEP upgrade, which will ensure the integrity of the GPS signal, may not allow enough time for sufficient operational testing before the scheduled launch of the first Block IIF satellite.”

March 4/09: The Air Force is modifying a contract with the Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) in El Segundo, CA for $12.7 million, changing the original system engineering and integration services contract to expand the Modernized Global Positioning System User Equipment program. This program is designed to ensure that American military forces have receiver equipment that can beginning taing advantage of new GPS features as they’re introduced. At this time $69,368 has been obligated by the USAF GPS Wing in El Segundo, CA (FAA807-07-C-002/P00019).

Feb 16/09: Northrop Grumman’s team successfully completes the System Design Review for the GPS OCX program. The System Design Review included a comprehensive exam of the total system architecture: software, hardware, processes, interfaces and operations by USAF program managers, operators and technical experts. This is the final major milestone under the Phase A contract, laying the foundation for the final decision on which team to pick: Northrop Grumman’s, or Raytheon’s.

Northrop Grumman’s release says that the team currently includes Harris Corporation; Integral Systems Inc.; Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Service; and Infinity Systems Engineering.

Feb 2/09: Northrop Grumman announces that its team has successfully demonstrated command and control of a GPS IIR-M satellite , using its GPS OCX Modernized Capability Engineering Model (MCEM) to successfully command and control a satellite test simulator located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FLA, from a Northrop Grumman plant in Redondo Beach, CA. As part of the process, the USAF provided the Northrop Grumman team a data set embedded with several anomalies:

“The team initiated contact with the test satellite and commanded it through a series of complex procedures that demonstrated the ability to restore mission operations and the delivery of highly accurate position and time information for GPS users. The Northrop Grumman team successfully controlled a new secure military signal that will substantially improve the availability of accurate GPS data to U.S. forces.”

Dec 13/08: Raytheon’s team successfully completes GPS OCX’s System Design Review and modernized capability engineering model demonstration on time, and within budget. The team demonstrated the ability to command modernized GPS signals, provide situational awareness and expose data on the network during the modernized capability engineering model demonstration.

The originally announced team included Boeing, ITT Industries, Braxton Technologies, Infinity Systems Engineering and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; but the Raytheon SDR announcement adds SRI International to the team. Raytheon | Braxton Technologies | GPS Daily.

Aug 18/08: The US DoD releases its latest Selected Acquisition Reports. GPS-III appears as a new program, and total program cost is baselined at $4.002 billion.

July 21/08: Northrop Grumman announces that its GPS OCX team recently completed the Standard Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI) software assessment, passing another significant milestone for the multi-billion dollar program and continuing Northrop Grumman’s enterprise-wide audit successes. NGC’s release adds:

“The government uses SCAMPI appraisals to identify strengths and weaknesses of software, engineering and management processes, and to reveal acquisition development risks for corrective action. These appraisals are frequently used as part of a process improvement program or for rating prospective prime contractors and their key subcontractors. The U.S. Air Force GPS Wing conducted a multi-week, comprehensive software appraisal, thoroughly examining more than 1,000 documents and measuring them against hundreds of criteria.”

July 18/08: Boeing wins an R&D contract for the “High Integrity GPS” project, which aims to leverage the Iridium constellation to improve military GPS accuracy and resistance to jamming. Victory of a sort, from the jaws of defeat?

May 21/08: After losing the GPS-III contract, Boeing will lay off 750 Southern California employees at plants in El Segundo and Seal Beach. This will reduce the staff of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems from 7,200 employees to about 6,450. National Examiner.

May 20/08: In “Who’s Leaking Air Force Procurement Information?”, the crew at the pro-Boeing Tanker War Blog raise a interesting question: was the result of the GPS-III contract effectively leaked to the public almost a month before the award? On April 29/08, Loren Thompson of The Lexington Institute published “Boeing and the Air Force at War: The Damage Spreads.” It included this quote:

“But the tone of Boeing’s tanker campaign has led at least some service officials to believe the worst about the company, a feeling that is spreading far beyond tankers. For instance, the service has probably delayed announcing award of the GPS III satellite contract in part because it fears another Boeing protest.”

There is more than one way to read that snippet, but the betting odds reading suggests that Boeing has lost this contract. The participants in Tanker War blog include legislative assistants on Capitol, and the post adds that:

“A number of people on the Hill tell us that they have very strongly believe a main source for these leaks [is]...”

May 15/08: Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. of King of Prussia, PA received a cost plus incentive fee/cost plus award fee contract for $1.46 billion for the first increment of the GPS III contract, covering 2008-2017. Lockheed Martin’s flight-proven A2100 satellite bus will serve as the base platform, and first launch is currently expected in 2014.

This initial contract funds 2 GPS IIIA research and development satellites (SV-1 and SV-2), a capability risk reduction and maturation effort to get key technologies ready for GPS IIIB and GPS IIIC, a GPS satellite simulator, “continue support for the Nuclear Detonation Detection System mission,” and a satellite bus real time simulator that lets the USAF test new electronics and additions. It also includes options for 10 additional GPS IIIA production satellites. At this time $96.8 million has been obligated. The Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center in El Segundo, CA issued the contract (Lockheed Martin: FA8807-08-C-0010; Boeing: FA8807-08-C-0012). USAF release | Lockheed Martin release | ITT release copy [PDF format] | National Examiner.

April 28/08: Northrop Grumman Corporation announces that Lockheed Martin has joined its Global Positioning System (GPS) Next Generation Control Segment (OCX) team.

Nov 21/07: The USAF awards a pair of a cost plus fixed fee, firm-fixed-price 18-month contracts to Northrop Grumman of Carson, CA ($160 million, FA8807-09-C-0001) and Raytheon Company of Aurora, CO ($159.8 million, FA8807-09-C-0003). At this time $16 million has been committed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. The firms will develop a new next-generation global positioning system control segment (GPS OCX) design with new anti-jamming technologies, more advanced predictive algorithms, and more frequent clock and ephemeris updates.

The dual award is designed to reduce risk, by introducing competition. Phase A is the competitive risk reduction effort which includes trade studies, requirements definition and engineering model development. That competition will include a system requirements and system design reviews, and creation of a modernized capability engineering model. These deliverables will support OCX “Key Decision Point B,” whereupon the USAF will decide on the single prime contractor to finish OCX development and field the system.

The previous GPS control segment incumbents each joined a team. Lockheed Martin lost the original bid, and eventually joined Northrop Grumman’s team. Boeing never competed alone, and was an early member of Raytheon’s team. Raytheon | Northrop Grumman | Inside GNSS.

Dec 16/06: Co-competitors Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corp. and Boeing Co. each receive a $50 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification to accomplish a GPS III system design review (SDR) in March 2007. The USAF’s Global Positioning Systems Wing at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA intends to reach its key decision point B single-selection in June 2007, when they will award the multi-billion dollar development contract for building GPS III.

In early 2005, the GPS III program was restructured from an FY12 first launch to no later than an FY13 first launch. It would eventually be moved again, to 2014. GPS World.

Jan 7/04: The Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA awards a $20.8 million contract to Boeing in Seal Beach, CA, and $20.786 million to Lockheed Martin in King of Prussia, PA for GPS III Phase A acquisition. These 2 contractors have been selected to “competitively mature GPS III requirements for a successful system requirements review, in support of key decision Point B acquisition milestone.” In English, this means they’ll develop key technologies so the USA can make a strong case to begin the formal System Design & Development phase.

At this time, $10.3 million of the funds have been obligated; further funds will be obligated as individual delivery orders are issued. Solicitation began September 2003, negotiations were completed in December 2003, and work will be complete by December 2005 (FA8807-04-C-0001 [Lockheed]; FA8807-04-C-0002 [Boeing]).

Additional Readings

NAVSTAR GPS Joint Program Office (SMC/GP)

USAF – GPS Constellation Status

DID Spotlight – Boeing Wins R&D Contract for High Integrity GPS. Iridium as an overlay: a form of victory, from the jaws of defeat?

USAF Space Command, High Frontier Journal (May 2008, Vol 4, #3) – Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing special issue [PDF format]. Probably the best depth introduction for laypeople looking to understand GPS’ role, challenges, and future plans.

DID – The GPS Constellation: Now and Future

Crosslink Magazine (Summer 2002) – Modernization and the Move to GPS III Excellent summary of GPS III’s planned improvements as of that date.

The Aerospace Corp. FFRDC – GPS Primer – The Global Positioning System: An Amazing Tool – Navstar. Overview of the entire program, plus dates.

Lockheed Martin – Global Positioning System

Raytheon – Global Positioning System Control Segment (OCX)

Boeing – GPS IIF (Global Positioning System)

DID FOCUS – Galileo GPS Project Faces More Certain Future. Includes readings covering security-related issues, and China’s own GPS projects. China is also a member of the Galileo consortium.

US GAO (Sept 15/10, #GAO-10-636) – Global Positioning System: Challenges in Sustaining and Upgrading Capabilities Persist

Los Angeles Times (May 23/10) – GPS is getting an $8-billion upgrade

GPS World (June 1/09) – L5 Signal First Light: A Preliminary Analysis of SVN49’s Demonstration Signal. A signal demonstrator was launched as part of GPS IIR-20M.

US GAO (May 7/09, #GAO-09-670T) – Global Positioning System: Significant Challenges in Sustaining and Upgrading Widely Used Capabilities. Most important quote: “It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption.”

GPS World (May 1/09) – L5 Demo Payload: From Concept to Capability in Less Than 12 Months. The demo payload flew on GPS IIR-20M.

GPS World (Oct 1/08) – The GPS L2C Signal: A Preliminary Analysis of Data Quality

GPS World (June 1/08) – AEP Goes Operational: GPS Control Segment Upgrade Details

USAF, Los Angeles AFB (May 17/08) – SMC Announces Contract Award for Next Generation GPS Space Segment

USAF Los Angeles AFB (Sept 17/07) – Air Force Completes Transition of GPS Fleet to Upgraded Control System. They mean AEP, though AEP will continue to receive improvements until it’s replaced by OCX.

DID (May 30/06) – Lockheed & EADS to Ensure Navstar/ Galileo GPS Compatibility

RIA Novosti, via UPI (March 3-4/08) – Glonass Gloom: Part 1 | Part 2.

Milsat Magazine (October 2007) – GPS OCX: The View From Raytheon. An Interview with Robert N. Canty

The Space Review (June 19/06) – Will China Compel the Development of GPS 4? “This will mean that the current GPS 3 program will have to be curtailed or modified beyond recognition. The generation after next of GPS satellites will have to include much more robust methods for overcoming or avoiding enemy interference…. In the long term this could create some interesting opportunities for the Transformational Satellite (T-Sat) communications program to work with the designers of the future GPS system.”