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December 13, 2011

Block III GPS Upgrade for Satellites to be Tested in Colorado by Lockheed Martin

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor


With a $5.5 billion price tag (News - Alert), the U.S. government’s major upgrade to GPS is a lot more sophisticated than the simple device that gives directions in cars. And a preliminary version is going to be getting tested soon.

When it’s complete, the new version called “Block III” will “make military and civilian receivers more accurate, powerful and reliable,” reports The Associated Press.

It won’t be until 2014 when the new version of satellite technology will be launched into space.

The early version is now at Lockheed Martin (News - Alert) in Colorado, where it will be tested for several months.

With the improvements, civilian receivers will receive signals from satellites from the United States, Europe or Russia. In another improvement, Block III satellites will be more difficult to jam and easier to tune into. In addition, Block III satellites will let military and non-military users figure out positions within 3 feet, an improvement from the current 10 feet range, The AP said.

The U.S. government is expected to purchase some 32 Block III satellites, and launch each of them into space, The AP said.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, Calif., is the main contractor for GPS Block III, according to a company statement.

The U.S. Air Force Space Command is in charge of U.S. GPS satellites and ground systems from Peterson Air Force Base, located in Colorado.

In other company news, TMCnet reported that Lockheed Martin’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) military communications satellite, made for the U.S. Navy, completed a recent test that to verify performance.

When launched, MUOS will improve ground communications for U.S. forces on the move. The satellite will undergo a final test before its launch, TMCnet added.

MUOS has 10 times the communications capabilities over current technology, according to TMCnet.



Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell



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