Spacecraft command communications unit ready for integration.

FAIRFAX, Va. – General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems successfully completed the Software Item Qualification Test (SIQT) of its Thin Communications Unit (TCU) flight software for the U.S Air Force’s Global Positioning System (GPS) III program. The TCU flight software was rated compliant with more than 300 performance requirements and meets the new rigorous mission-assurance standards developed by the Air Force for the GPS III program. General Dynamics is a major subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, the GPS III's prime contractor.

The flight software is a critical component of the TCU that supports the automation of onboard spacecraft communications. The TCU provides the communications interface between the GPS III spacecraft bus, network communications and navigation elements. As part of the low-risk development plan for GPS III, Lockheed Martin began space-vehicle level integration with the fully qualified software more than 30 months ahead of the first scheduled GPS III launch.

“The SIQT affirmed our ability to develop complex software that meets the most demanding and rigorous standards established for the GPS III program,” said Kirstan Rock, vice president of the SIGINT line of business for General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. “Our team’s approach was thorough and that is shown in the high-quality and reliable products we continue to provide to our customers.”

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems is providing the Network Communications Element (NCE), including the UHF Crosslink and Tracking, Telemetry and Command (TT&C) subsystems. The NCE provides the communication functions for the GPS III satellites, including the ground-to-space command and control channel, the space-to-space inter-satellite channel and the command and telemetry communications channels within each satellite. General Dynamics is currently working on the qualification testing for the three main components of the NCE, including the Space Ground Link System (SGLS) and Unified S-Band (USB) Transponder (SUT), Thin Comm Unit and Enhanced Crosslink Transponder Subsystem (ECTS).

The Air Force’s next-generation GPS III satellites will improve position, navigation and timing services and provide advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability. The first GPS III space vehicles will deliver signals three times more accurate than current GPS spacecraft and provide three times more power for military users, while also enhancing the spacecraft’s design life and adding a new civil signal designed to be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems.

The GPS constellation provides critical situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military and supports a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions – from air traffic control to navigation systems in cars, cell phones and wristwatches. GPS is increasing productivity in areas as diverse as farming, mining, construction, surveying, package delivery and supply chain management. The system is also enhancing public safety by reducing response times for ambulances, firefighters and other emergency services.

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