Boeing, Lockheed to study next-gen GPS
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Nov 12, 2000
The Air Force has chosen two contractors that designed the current Global
Positioning System constellation of satellites to study options for the
next generation of GPS.
Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Space Systems each were awarded $16 million
fixed-price contracts for the 12-month System Architecture and Requirements
Definition study, according to a statement Thursday from the GPS Joint Program
Office at Los Angeles Air Force Base.
The results will be used to define the performance baseline for the
Program Definition and Risk Reduction phase of the GPS III modernization,
which will begin with a separate competition in fall 2001 and an award in
early 2002. After that phase, a single contractor will be chosen for the
engineering and design of GPS III.
GPS satellites broadcast signals that are used to determine accurate
position, location and time on the ground, in the air or in space. The constellation
broadcasts a coded signal for military use. It also broadcasts a civil signal
that was intentionally degraded until May 1, when President Clinton announced
that the military had proven the capability to selectively block use of
GPS by adversaries in areas of conflict.
A modernization program is adding satellites that will include an additional
military signal as well as two new civil signals that will increase the
accuracy and redundancy of the system.
The GPS III architecture studies will incorporate users' requirements
through 2030. The studies will provide architectural alternatives to the
current system, which depends on at least 24 operating satellites in a medium-Earth
orbit. The studies also will look at ways to consolidate ground infrastructure
to reduce total ownership costs and provide flexibility for future enhancements.
Boeing, formerly Rockwell, built the GPS Block II satellites that still
make up most of the 27-satellite system. Lockheed built the Block 2R satellites
that are being launched to replace aging GPS satellites and to add a second
GPS signal for civilian users of the system. Boeing also is designing a
small number of Block IIF satellites that will include the second civil
signal, an additional military signal and a third civil signal designed
for use in safety-critical applications such as aircraft landing.
The GPS III satellites are slated for deployment in 2009, the Air Force