Raytheon’s Next-Gen Ground System Supports Air Force GPS Satellite Space Launch

Dave Wajsgras, Raytheon

The U.S. Air Force is using Raytheon’s GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System for the launch of its second GPS III satellite into space, positioning the system for 10 days as it maneuvers the satellite into its final orbit.

Known as the GPS OCX, the control system is an enhanced ground control segment of the country’s GPS system, and has reached the highest level of cybersecurity protections of any Defense Department space system — which is why it will be used to support all future GPS III launches. It has an open architecture design, so it can integrate and update with advanced protections.

And as part of the second launch, the GPS OCX will also support multiple GPS III spacecraft on-orbit throughout the checkout and calibration process.

But testing began earlier this year, when the Raytheon team completed final qualification testing of the system’s modernized monitor station receivers, which can receive and decrypt all GPS III military and civil signals. Global installation of the receivers is slated for next month, and will keep the program on track for full system delivery by the June 2021 contractual deadline.

“GPS OCX performed extremely well during the first launch and has exceeded performance requirements in the months since,” said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services.

Along with the GPS OCX, Raytheon and General Dynamics Information Technology’s RGNext provided operational launch support to the United Launch Alliance’s Delta-IV rocket carrying the GPS III satellite. RGNext operates the launch range on behalf of the Air Force, as it provides maintenance, range safety, weather monitoring, communication and surveillance support for all launches done by defense, civil and commercial companies at the range.

“The team was well-prepared for this launch, and we’re confident the system’s performance will continue to be positive,” Wajsgras said.

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