Satellite System - Navigation
Using Service (US):
Air Force (USAF)
In Production (Block IIIA)
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a constellation of orbiting satellites that provides navigation data to
military and civilian users all over the world. As of June 2014, there are 31 GPS Block II satellites in the constellation.
The system is operated and controlled by the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base (AFB) in Colorado.
GPS provides a global, three-dimensional positioning, navigation, and timing information system -
used by the U.S. military for aircraft, artillery, ships, tanks and other weapon systems.
GPS satellites orbit the earth every 12 hours and send continuous navigation signals. Users can receive these signals to calculate time, location and velocity. The GPS signals are so accurate that time can be figured to within a millionth of a second, velocity within a fraction of a mile per hour, and location to within 100 feet.
GPS provides 24-hour navigation services including:
-Extremely accurate, three-dimensional location information
-A global common grid that is easily converted to any local grid
-Passive all-weather operations
-Continuous real-time information
-Support to an unlimited number of users and areas
-Support to civilian users at a slightly less accurate level.
The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program supports the launch of GPS satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida. GPS satellites are launched into 11,000-mile circular orbits. While orbiting the earth, the current systems transmit signals on two different L-band frequencies. GPS II satellites have a design life of 7.5 years, but many remain operational for as long as 10-12 years or more. The most recent GPS satellite, Block IIF-6, was launched on May 17, 2014.
GPS capabilities were put to the test during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Allied troops relied heavily on GPS to navigate the featureless Arabian Desert. During operations Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom, GPS contributions increased significantly. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the GPS satellite constellation allowed the delivery of GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) with pinpoint precision (to about 10 feet) and with minimal collateral damage.
The Block I satellites, built by Rockwell International (now Boeing), were launched from 1978 to 1985. The last of 11 Block I satellites was turned off in November 1995. The Block II satellites, were launched from 1989 to 2014. A total of 55 satellites were launched of which 31 are still in operation. 37 Block II/IIA were built by Rockwell International (now Boeing); 13 Block IIR and 8 Block IIR-M were built by Lockheed Martin; and 6 Block IIF were built by Boeing.
The newest GPS satellite, the Lockheed Martin
GPS IIIA payload, will deliver significant enhancements,
including a new L1C (civil) Galileo-compatible signal and enhanced M-code earth coverage power.
The GPS IIIA satellites will deliver signals three times more accurate
than current GPS payloads and provide three times more power for military users, while at the same time enhancing design life
and adding a new civil signal - designed to be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems.
The GPS III production team consists of Lockheed Martin,
and Infinity Systems Engineering.
The Air Force plans to purchase eight GPS IIIA satellites. Initial launch is planned for 2014.
In May 2008, the first GPS III contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin for the development and production of two initial space vehicles (SV-1 and SV-2), with options for up to ten additional SVs. In January 2012, the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $238 million contract for the production of GPS III SV-3 and SV-4. On February 25, 2013, the U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin two fixed-price contracts totaling $120 million for long lead parts for GPS III satellites SV-5, SV-6, SV-7 and SV-8. On December 13, 2013, the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin $200 million in contract options to complete production of SV-5 and SV-6. On April 1, 2014, the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin $245 million in contract options to complete production of SV-7 and SV-8.
will produce the GPS OCX, which is the next generation Global Positioning System Advanced Control Segment.
The OCX will provide command and control of the GPS IIA, IIR, IIR-M, IIF, and IIIA satellites and replaces the OCX Master Control
Station and Alternate Master Control Station. Also, the OCX upgrades the U.S. Air Force and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) monitor stations
and modifies the existing ground antennas. Furthermore, the OCX provides monitoring of all current GPS signals as well as
the new L1C, L2C, L5, and M-Code signals. The Raytheon
production team includes Boeing,
Braxton Technologies, Infinity Systems Engineering, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
In February 2010, the Air Force awarded Raytheon an initial contract of $886 million to develop the new OCX element of the GPS to improve the accuracy and availability of GPS navigation signals. The initial 73-month contract, among other things, calls for development and installation of hardware and software at GPS control stations at Schriever Air Force Base (AFB) in Colorado and Vandenberg AFB in California.
The unit cost of a GPS IIIA satellite is $224.62 million (in FY 2014).
The total procurement cost of the GPS III program is $1.72 billion (official DoD estimate) + $6.20 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds, which means the total estimated program cost is $7.92 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made).
The GPS constellation provides worldwide positioning, navigation, and precise time to military and civilian users.
Funds in the amount of $450.2 million will purchase two GPS IIIA satellites (SV-7 and SV-8).
Also, FY 14 continues the development of the next generation GPS ground control system (GPS-OCX)
and the GPS III Space Segment with $373.1 million and $201.0 million in RDT&E funds, respectively.
FY 14 also provides funds in the amount of $58.0 million required for Global Positioning System (GPS) Block IIF satellite launch and on-orbit support, including satellite transportation from the factory to the launch site, launch processing and booster integration, launch operations, and on-orbit checkout and operations.
Funds in the amount of $292.4 million will purchase one GPS IIIA satellite (SV-9),
as well as the advanced procurement for satellite SV-10. Continues the development of GPS OCX Blocks 1 and 2
and funds the technology development of Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) Increment 1.
Funds the GPS Program Office's responsibility as the Prime Integrator (Enterprise Integration)
to synchronize space, control and user segment programs and manage civil/military specifications and requirements.
For more information, click to see the USAF FY 2015 GPS III Budget.
FY 15 also provides funds in the amount of $54.2 million for Global Positioning System (GPS) Block IIF satellite launch and on-orbit support, including satellite storage, transportation from the factory to the launch site, launch processing and booster integration, launch operations, and on-orbit checkout and operations. For more information, click to see the USAF FY 2015 GPS II Budget.
Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co.,
Last Update: October 28, 2014.
By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (email@example.com)
Lockheed Martin: GPS Satellite IIIA
Raytheon: OCX Advanced Control System
Boeing: GPS IIF Satellite
Schriever AFB: 50th Space Wing
YouTube: Global Positioning System | YouTube Videos
Brochure: Lockheed Martin GPS IIIA | Brochure
Fact Sheet: Lockheed Martin GPS IIIA | Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet: Raytheon GPS OCX | Fact Sheet
Total GPS III Program Cost:
$7.92 billion ($1.72B procurement + $6.20B RDT&E)
GPS III Procurement Objective:
8 satellites (6 production and 2 development)
GPS U.S. Defense Budget Charts:
Primary Function: Constellation of satellites that provide navigational data to military and civilian users