Raytheon [RTN] completed three preliminary launch readiness exercises for the Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellites, milestones needed in preparation for launch into orbit, the company said Thursday.

The exercises were completed over the summer and “demonstrated the maturity and readiness” of Raytheon’s Launch and Checkout Systems (LCS) to support GPS III satellite launches, the company said in a statement.

Artist's rendering of a GPS III satellite. Image: Lockheed Martin.
Artist’s rendering of a GPS III satellite. Image: Lockheed Martin.

The LCS is part of the company’s Next-Generation Operational Control System (GPS OCX) and handles the full range of operation and procedures for the launch and early checkout of GPSIII satellites.

GPS III is part of the U.S. Air Force-led GPS Modernization Program meant to result in new positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities for U.S. military and civilian users of the GPS system.

Raytheon explained which aspects of LCS the exercises tested. The first exercise demonstrated capabilities needed to deploy GPS III satellites during launch and checkout such as transferring orbits in space, configuration procedures, and an ability to handle anomalies the satellite could meet in space.

The second exercise, for the first time, demonstrated an ability to switch contacts among multiple simulated U.S. Air Force Satellite Control network ground sites during the launch and early orbit checkout period. The switching is necessary for commanding the satellites and determining orbits as the move around Earth.

The final exercise demonstrated first acquisition of the space vehicle after launch, transfer orbit configurations, simultaneous contacts, and handoffs from multiple simulated Air Force Space Command Network (AFSCN) sites.

“The use of multiple preliminary events represent a novel, iterative development approach to replace the more traditional use of a few large exercises to test many new capabilities all at once,” Matt Gilligan, vice president of Raytheon Navigation and Environmental Solutions, said in a statement.

“Holding more frequent, smaller events exercises system maturity and provides the opportunity for GPS teams from different parts of the enterprise to stay current on developing technology,” Gilligan added.

Raytheon also highlighted GPS OSX generally and LCS specifically are cyber-hardened and “will help ensure that the system can meet evolving cyber threats.”

“These events demonstrate the growing maturity and readiness of Raytheon’s ground system to support the launch of GPS III satellites. LCS includes the cyber-hardened infrastructure for incorporating the remaining OCX mission applications, and represents a significant risk reduction for the overall program,” Gilligan said.

Raytheon is developing GPS OCX under a contract for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, replacing the current GPS operational control system. OCX Launch and Checkout systems provide an early delivery of the system’s capabilities necessary to support6 GPS III launches, Raytheon said.

LCS is undergoing qualification testing in preparation for delivery to the Air Force.