Satellite Mission Payloads

Advanced and Flight Proven Mission Payloads for Space


General Dynamics' mission payloads provide weather information to meteorologists, send new data about our solar system to scientists, and the global positioning information to help us arrive at new destinations using the most expedient route. It is also our mission payloads enabling actionable intelligence that our U.S. government customers need to help secure the nation.

Our mission payloads have been integral to the nation’s space exploration missions and the DOD and intelligence community’s satellite systems for more than five decades. These mission payloads on board satellites are capable of operating from hundreds to millions of miles over our heads and deep into the universe around us.

As space travel, exploration and space-based systems responsible for protecting and defending our nation evolve, General Dynamics has extensively invested in research and development to significantly reduce the size, weight and power (SWaP) needs of a mission payload as well as improving the performance and reducing the cost of the mission payload over the life of the mission.

GPS Mission Payload 16 modules

How We're Making Mission Payloads Smaller & More Affordable

General Dynamics engineers have worked to converge the functionality and capability from multiple, heavy boxes of electronics into a space-hardened semiconductor and software based system. This technology not only reduces SWaP, but provides greater resiliency through responsive capabilities on board the satellite and enables post-launch flexibility to address new missions. By adding more capability via digital signal processing, software, and field-programmable gate arrays and other semiconductors, the payloads have become, smaller, more affordable and reconfigurable to meet future emerging mission needs.

We are replacing boxes of analog electronic equipment the size of a microwave with high performance digital technologies the size of a postage stamp.” - Ann Rusher, General Dynamics Mission Systems

Beyond the benefits of reduced SWaP, the migration to digital components allows land based crew to reconfigure and reprogram the onboard software as the parameters of the mission change. As threats on the ground and geo-political events evolve, the ability to update and revise payload functionality post-launch is vital.

Our engineers also understand that space is a challenging domain for both man and machine. Ordinary commercial components would soon be destroyed by pressure, temperature and radiation if sent into space. The General Dynamics-designed and built mission payloads are intended to endure multi-year missions in these extremely inhospitable conditions.

GPS III Network Communications Element

The GPS Satellite constellation provides critical situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military and the turn-by-turn directions you use from your car every day. General Dynamics' Network Communications Element components provide the communications 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.

Learn More About GPS III Satellites


We have been providing high reliability mission payloads to the US government for almost five decades with zero on-orbit failures. We are one of the nation’s thought leaders for digital space payloads and we plan to continue investing in critical new technologies to improve the performance, flexibility, reliability and affordability of our mission payloads. Our goal is to architect “today’s” mission payloads for “tomorrow’s” hard problems.

Manny Mora, Vice President at General Dynamics Mission Systems

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