GPS next generation operational control system
The Global Positioning System, or GPS, is a network of orbiting satellites that broadcasts a continuous stream of precise position details to earth, allowing GPS receivers to triangulate users’ exact locations across the world.
GPS was first developed in the 1960s to allow ships in the U.S. Navy to navigate oceans more accurately. The first system included five satellites that allowed ships to check their location once every hour. Today’s system includes more than two dozen satellites, allowing nearly instantaneous precision location to within a few meters. The applications, across industries, are endless.
Since 1983, GPS has been available to anyone with a GPS receiver. Airlines, shipping companies, trucking firms, farmers, bankers and drivers everywhere reap the benefits of the world’s greatest free utility on a daily basis.
The current GPS system consists of two key segments: space and ground control. The space segment includes the constellation of multiple satellites currently on orbit, while the control segment consists of the ground-based stations that are responsible for tracking, monitoring, and updating of the satellites. As part of an historic modernization effort, Raytheon will deliver the full enhanced ground control segment, commonly referred to as GPS next-generation operational control system or GPS OCX in 2021.
Together with next-generation satellites, GPS OCX will provide improved accuracy of the current system and will be able to fly more than twice as many satellites. Those additional satellites will increase coverage in hard-to-reach areas such as urban canyons and mountainous terrain.
GPS OCX has implemented 100 percent of the Department of Defense’s information assurance standards without waivers, giving it the highest level of cybersecurity protections of any DoD space system. The cyber-secure system will have improved accuracy with better international availability as well as globally deployed modernized receivers with anti-jam capabilities.
Deliverables for the entire GPS OCX system are divided into three blocks: Block 0, Block 1 and Block 2. Block 0 delivery took place in the fall of 2017, enabling it to support the first launch of modernized GPS III satellites in 2018. In December of 2018, the US Air Force successfully launched the first next-generation GPS III satellites from Cape Canaveral Florida using the GPS OCX Launch and Checkout System (LCS). The Mission successfully completed the Launch and Early Orbit phase of the Mission on January 1, 2019 and will continue performing a multi-month on orbit checkout and test. Block 1 delivery will take place in 2021, providing full operational capability to include control of both legacy and modernized satellites and signals. Block 2, delivered concurrently with Block 1, adds operational control of the new international L1C and modernized Military Code signals.