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ATK delivers first satellite structures and tanks for Air Force GPS III satellites

News International-French

21 Sep 2011

ATK delivered the first two A2100 composite satellite structures and the first ship set of propellant tanks for the GPS III satellites Lockheed Martin is building for the U.S. Air Force.

This is the first major hardware delivery milestone in the program, which has been underway since ATK was awarded the contract from Lockheed Martin in April 2010.


The contract includes the fabrication of a non-flight satellite testbed structure and the first two GPS III satellite structures. The testbed structure was delivered May 9 and the first space vehicle structure was delivered August 4. The first ship set of tanks were also delivered in early August. Each ship set includes one hydrazine, two oxidizer, and two pressurant tanks. The contract includes options for the same hardware for up to 10 additional satellites. The GPS III structure, made from lightweight, high-strength composite materials, and the propellant tanks were delivered to Lockheed Martin's Mississippi Space & Technology Center, an advanced propulsion, thermal, and metrology facility located at the John C. Stennis Space Center, for integration and testing.


"The GPS III program continues to meet major milestones on or ahead of schedule, and the delivery of the core structure and propellant tanks for the first GPS III space vehicle is another achievement demonstrating this program's solid execution," said Lt Col Don Frew, the U.S. Air Force's GPS III program manager. "The joint U.S. Air Force and industry team understands the importance of GPS III and we are focused on delivering capabilities to meet the demands of more than one billion GPS users worldwide."


ATK has been manufacturing A2100 structures and propellant tanks for Lockheed Martin since the satellite model was introduced in 1996 for the company's commercial satellite customers. The composite structures are manufactured at ATK's San Diego, CA facility, with support from the ATK Beltsville, MD operation, and the propellant tanks are manufactured in ATK's Commerce, CA facility.


"Through actively partnering with our customer, ATK was able to meet the program needs on a very aggressive schedule while maintaining the quality of the deliverables," said Dave Shanahan, Vice President, ATK's Space Structures & Components. "ATK's role in this program is critical to ensuring the next generation GPS satellites are successful."


To meet increasing demand from GPS users, the next generation GPS III satellites will deliver significant improvements over current GPS space vehicles. GPS III will improve position, navigation and timing services and provide advanced anti-jam capabilities, yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability. The next-generation GPS III satellites will deliver signals three times more accurate than current GPS spacecraft and provide three times more power for military users, while also adding a new international civil signal (L1C) that is designed to be interoperable with other global navigation satellite systems. The first GPS III satellite is on track to be delivered and available for launch in 2014.


ATK is an aerospace, defense, and commercial products company with operations in 22 states, Puerto Rico, and internationally, and revenues of approximately $4.8 billion.


As unveiled on the 19th of September.

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