DENVER, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The pathfinder spacecraft for Lockheed Martin's next-generation GPS is ready for final assembly, integration and testing at a new facility in Colorado.
The Global Positioning System III, under development for the U.S. Air Force, will replace older satellites and will be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems.
"The on-schedule delivery of the GPS III pathfinder is a key indicator that this program is on firm footing and poised to deliver on its commitments," said Lt. Col. Don Frew, the U.S. Air Force's GPS III program manager.
"In this challenging budget environment, we are committed to delivering the critical GPS III capabilities to users affordably and on schedule."
The GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed is a full-sized equivalent prototype of the satellite. It is used to identify development problems before the test of the first space vehicle.
It was delivered by Lockheed engineers to the company's facility in Denver, designed to be program's the assembly and test area. The facility, n the company's former Atlas rocket assembly building, is nearly 40,000 square feet and includes dedicated thermal vacuum and anechoic test chambers.
"The new GPS Processing Facility is truly state-of-the-art and its capability will allow our team to execute an extremely efficient GPS III production timeline," said Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin's GPS III program director.
"The government and industry GPS III team has demonstrated outstanding commitment to this program. Together, we are constantly searching for ways to reduce costs while ensuring we deliver the most reliable, capable GPS satellite ever."
The first GPS III is scheduled for launch in 2014.
Lockheed's partners on the program include ITT, General Dynamics, Infinity Systems Engineering, Honeywell, ATK and other subcontractors.