Ground Control Systems Manoeuvres Satellite Into Final Orbit
The US Air Force (USAF) used Raytheon’s GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System (GPS OCX) to support the launch of the second GPS III satellite, the company announced on 22 August. The ground system will now spend 10 days manoeuvring the satellite into its final orbit, demonstrating its ability to simultaneously support multiple GPS III spacecraft on-orbit throughout the checkout and calibration process.
GPS OCX, the enhanced ground control segment of America’s GPS system, has achieved the highest level of cybersecurity protections of any Department of Defense (DoD) space system. Its open architecture design allows it to integrate advanced protections as they become available: the system’s industry-leading cyber protections are the reason it will be used to support all future GPS III launches and GPS constellation activities, after operational acceptance.
“GPS OCX performed extremely well during the first launch and has exceeded performance requirements in the months since […] The team was well-prepared for this launch, and we’re confident the system’s performance will continue to be positive,” commented President of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services, Dave Wajsgras.
Earlier this year, the team completed final qualification testing of the system’s modernised monitor station receivers, which can receive and decrypt all GPS III military and civil signals. Global installation of the receivers starts next month and keeps the programme on track for full system delivery by the June 2021 contractual deadline.
In addition to GPS OCX’s role, RGNext, a joint venture between Raytheon and General Dynamics Information Technology, provided operational launch support to ensure safe launch of the United Launch Alliance’s DELTA-IV rocket that carried the GPS III satellite. RGNext operates the launch range on behalf of the USAF, providing maintenance, range safety, weather monitoring, communication and surveillance support for all launches conducted by defence, civil and commercial companies at the range.