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Lockheed Martin to upgrade GPS satellites for orbital service

Eric Brown said logistics and service technologies on the ground are making the industry think of new ways to design satellites.

WASHINGTON – Lockheed Martin is redesigning the bus used for Global Positioning System satellites so they can be upgraded with new orbital hardware, a company chief said on February 25.

Eric Brown, senior director of military space mission strategy at Lockheed Martin, said this is important because the idea today is that “when something was on track, you were done with it.” He said thinking will change as the opportunities for space service and logistics become available in the coming years.

The redesigned LM2100 commercial bus will be used in the future version of GPS 3 satellites known as GPS 3F. Lockheed Martin expects the third satellite on the GPS 3F line to have the upgraded bus, Brown said during a panel discussion at the Air Force Association̵

7;s virtual symposium on aviation warfare.

The panel was moderated by Brig. General Steve Whitney, Director of Space Programs for the Air Force Department. Whitney, who previously ran the GPS program at the Space and Missile Systems Center, noted that orbital service is a new technology in the space industry and DoD satellites should benefit from it.

Brown said innovations in logistics and service on the ground are leading the industry to think of new ways to design satellites.

“We want to be able to enable on-orbit docking, which will allow us to upgrade on-orbit to bring in a new processor, bring in new sensor technologies, things like that that allow us to increase relevance and mission capability. to a space platform, ”he said.

The LM2100 is a large platform used for satellites in the range of 2,300 to 6,500 kg.

Brown said Lockheed Martin has been working on this upgrade for some time. One of the motives was the concern that satellite upgrades in orbit have been considered “a really risky proposition” and that there are now technologies to make it possible with less risk.

Joseph Cassady, CEO of Space at Aerojet Rocketdyne, was also on the panel, mentioning the company’s interest in logistics in space.

Brown said Lockheed Martin plans to work with Aerojet Rocket Dune in this area. “When we talk about maturity in things like rendezvous and proximity operations, we have a lot of capacity as an industry, and certainly Aerojet Rocketdyne is a huge company that also looks at things like that,” Brown said.

Lockheed Martin announced in December that they intend to buy the Aerojet Rocket Dune.

“Given the announcements we ‘ve had over the last few months, Lockheed Martin looks set to partner with Aerojet Rocketdyne in the future, as part of the family,” Brown said.

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