Lockheed Martin has completed the process of joining the functional components of the Air Force’s first GPS III navigation satellite, paving the way for testing of the integrated spacecraft later this year, announced the company on Monday. “The final integration of the first GPS III satellite is a major milestone for the GPS III program,” said Mark Stewart, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s navigation systems mission area. Company engineers and technicians brought together the satellite’s system module, which contains the navigation payload, and its propulsion core at its facility in Denver, creating GPS III space vehicle one, or SV 01, states the release. “This summer, SV 01 will begin thermal vacuum testing, where it will be subjected to simulated harsh space environments,” said Stewart. “Successful completion of this testing is critical as it will help validate our design and manufacturing processes for all follow-on GPS III satellites,” he added. Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to build eight GPS III satellites.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.