L3Harris Technologies [LHX] recently delivered its Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) space vehicles directorate’s integration and test building at Kirtland AFB, N.M., AFRL said on Jan. 27.

AFRL had planned to launch the 1,100-pound NTS-3 in March to demonstrate advanced protection technologies for GPS and other positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) systems, but the date has slipped

until late this year (Defense Daily, Nov. 10, 2022).

The satellite integrates a PNT payload on a Northrop Grumman [NOC] ESPAStar bus to permit future experiments and demonstrations.

After testing at Kirtland, the satellite will go to Edwards AFB, Calif., “for radio frequency testing, making history as the NTS-3 satellite will become the first space vehicle tested in the U.S. Air Force Benefield Anechoic Facility,” per a Jan. 26 L3Harris letter to investors.

NTS-3 began in 2019 as one of the first three Air Force Vanguard programs.

“AFRL and L3Harris are now completing the remaining [NTS-3] intra-payload and payload-to-bus functional and performance tests, including the first radio frequency broadcast tests of the novel PNT signals that will be demonstrated from near-geosynchronous orbit after the NTS-3 launch,” AFRL said on Jan. 27.

The Global Navigation Satellite System Test Architecture (GNSSTA) reprogrammable software-defined receiver, developed by MITRE Corp. and AFRL’s sensors directorate, is to allow users to receive older GPS signals and advanced, NTS-3 signals.

GNSSTA “lays the groundwork for future operational receivers to provide the Space Force with options to prevent and respond quickly to common threats on the battlefield, like GPS jamming and spoofing,” AFRL said.

The planned NTS-3 launch would come more than 46 years after NTS-2, which launched on June 23, 1977. NTS-2 carried the first orbital cesium clock and became the basis for the GPS constellation.