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Raytheon delivers the launch and checkout system for next-gen GPS

The GPS Operational Control System's launch and checkout system will control launch and early orbit operations and the on-orbit checkout of all GPS III satellites.

It's an important step in the evolution of GPS.

Raytheon’s GPS Next Generation Operational Control System launch and checkout system was delivered to the U.S. Air Force, which developed the GPS system the world relies on, on September 29. The service accepted delivery at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, keeping it on track to launch its first, next-gen GPS III satellite into orbit next year.

The GPS OCX launch and checkout system, also called Block 0, provides the computing hardware, operations center workstations and mission application software needed to launch and check the condition of all currently planned GPS III satellites.

“The delivery of the launch and checkout system is a monumental achievement— a milestone that was many years in the making,” said Dave Wajsgras, Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services president. “GPS OCX will be, without a doubt, the most secure system ever produced not only for the U.S. Air Force, but for the entire nation.”

Because GPS is so broadly used, a system crash would cause serious financial, societal and national security issues. As such, it's a potential target for cyberattacks. To protect the system from hackers, Raytheon used robust cyber protections in OCX, securing the system against malicious cyber threats.

“We provided the Air Force with a cyber-hardened ground system,” said Bill Sullivan, Raytheon’s GPS OCX program manager, adding that its the first major system to be completely compliant with U.S. Department of Defense instructions on implementing information assurance. "We use GPS In our phones, cars and even watches; a disruption due to hacking would be catastrophic to society in general.”

Besides being a national security asset, GPS is a free, global utility, providing position, navigation and timing data critical to information sharing across the globe in almost every industry.

“Airlines, shipping companies, trucking firms, farmers, bankers and drivers everywhere use GPS on a daily basis,” said Anthony Serhal, Raytheon GPS OCX Block 0 team lead. “Many industries can’t do without it.”

When the full delivery of GPS OCX is made in 2021, it will provide control of both legacy and modernized satellites and signals, including the new international L1C and modernized Military Code, or M-Code, signals.

The next-generation GPS will deliver a host of new capabilities, including automation for operational efficiencies, improved accuracy, interoperability with geo-positioning and navigation systems of other nations for better international availability, and anti-jam capability for military users.

“Improved GPS accuracy will mean a lot to our military when they’re using precision munitions,” Sullivan said. “You will not see a big difference on your mobile phone when you’re using it for directions, but those directions will be accurate and safe from hacking and, in the future, when we have self-driving cars on the road, reliability, accuracy and inches will matter.”

Last Updated: 11/15/2017

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