This contract covers the 11th and 12th satellites inside the Air Force’s next-generation GPS III constellation and represent the first space vehicles within the GPS IIIF, or GPS III follow on, program. The Pentagon announcement said the competition included “one solicitation mailed and something solicitation received” but did not offer further details.
The contract requires Lockheed Martin to offer non-recurring engineering, space vehicle test bed and simulators, production of GPS IIIF Space Vehicles 11 and 12, in addition to the production of approximately 22 GPS IIIF space vehicles, space vehicle storage, and launch and on-orbit support. These satellites will feature an upgraded payload that may grant the hands of time signal for the new GPS III Search and Rescue (SAR) payload, and extend the satellite’s service life. The total contract value could reach $7.2 billion.
The first 10 GPS III satellite navigation payload includes “a Mission Data Unit (MDU) which has a unique 70 percent digital design that links atomic clocks, radiation-hardened computers and powerful transmitters,” as outlined by a Harris release.
This allows for signals thrice more accurate than others on current GPS satellites, the corporation said.
The first GPS III satellite was designated as readily available for launch in September 2017. It is supposed to liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida before the end of 2018. The next satellite will launch aboard a rocket from United Launch Alliance. The U.S. Air Force intends to procure around 22 new satellites during the second phase of GPS III follow-on, with the first vehicle planned for any 2026 delivery.