Lockheed Martin [LMT] recently delivered its full-sized, functional Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellite prototype to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., to test facilities and pre-launch processes, according to a company statement.

The prototype, known as the GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST), arrived at Cape Canaveral July 19 to begin dry run launch base space vehicle processing activities and other testing that future flight-ready GPS III satellites will undergo. The first flight-ready GPS III satellite is expected to arrive at Cape Canaveral in 2014 and ready for launch by the Air Force in 2015, Lockheed Martin said. 

Lockheed Martin spokesman Chip Eschenfelder said July 22 the GNST will ultimately undergo a compatibility and integration test in August where the company will actually connect the GNST to the operational control system (OCX) launch and checkout system control segment and send commands to the GNST. The OCX is developed by Raytheon [RTN].

Eschenfelder said the GNST will remain at Cape Canaveral until October, when it will be shipped back to the company’s GPS III processing facility for further testing. Before shipment aboard an Air Force C-17 from Buckley AFB, Colo., the GNST completed a series of high-fidelity activities to “pathfind” the integration, test and environmental checkout that all production GPS III satellites undergo at Lockheed Martin’s new GPS III processing facility near Denver.

“All future GPS III satellites will follow the same path,” Keoki Jackson, vice president for Lockheed Martin’s navigation systems mission area, said in a statement. “So the GNST was a smart initiative to help us discover and resolve any issues in advance.” 

GPS III is an Air Force program that will replace aging GPS satellites in orbit, improving capability to meet the evolving demands of military, commercial and civilian users. A Lockheed Martin-led industry team recently successfully completed functional integration tests of the first GPS III space vehicle’s bus and network communications equipment.

Lockheed Martin also recently delivered the navigation, communication and hosted payload antenna assemblies for the first GPS III satellite.

The company is under contract for production of the first four GPS III satellites and has received advanced procurement funding for long-lead components for the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth GPS III satellites, according to Lockheed Martin.