A new contract by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, will push ahead a contract to upgrade up to 12 GPS Block IIR satellites.

How ahead of schedule do you get your projects done? Probably not as early as Lockheed Martin. A new contract by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Bethesda, Md., will push ahead a contract to upgrade up to 12 GPS Block IIR satellites by an estimated eight years. Lockheed Martin awarded the $39 million contract to ITT Industries’ Aerospace/Communications Division (A/CD), Fort Wayne, Ind.

The satellite payloads will incorporate a second civilian signal and two new military signals. Other modifications to the GPS IIR satellites include increased signal power and the ability to reconfigure signals and power in orbit. The improvements provide better accuracy as well as more resistance to jamming. John Kirkwood, manager of public affairs for ITT Industries, said there are two reasons for the early modernization: an increased demand from the civil service sector and an increased demand from the military sector to provide more accurate and powerful signals.

Under the ITT/Lockheed plan, modernization of the IIR satellites will begin in 2003 and all 12 modernized satellites should be in service by 2006. Under the previous plan, the modernization wouldn’t begin until 2005 and would be available by 2015. Work on this contract will be carried out at ITT’s Clifton, N.J., facility. The contract was awarded to ITT in August 2000.

ITT is also working with Lockheed Martin on an architecture study of the design and production of the next GPS spacecraft, GPS III. GPS III’s goal is to ensure the best GPS system for the nation for the next 30 years, reduce long-term total ownership costs and offer possible augmentation opportunities. It is estimated to launch in 2009.