The third Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) military communications satellite core propulsion module was delivered half a year early, according to Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT].

That module is to propel the third AEHF space vehicle (SV-3).

AEHF will provide global, highly secure, protected, survivable communications for all warfighters.

The AEHF core propulsion module contains the integrated propulsion system as well as panels and other components that serve as the structural foundation of the satellite.

That propulsion system is essential for maneuvering the satellite during transfer orbit to its final location as well as conducting on-orbit repositioning maneuvers throughout its mission life.

The integrated system was delivered to Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif., from the Lockheed Mississippi Space & Technology Center, an advanced propulsion, thermal, and metrology facility at the John C. Stennis Space Center.

Delivery allows the team of Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., the AEHF prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] unit Space Technology, Redondo Beach, Calif., the payload supplier, to prepare for the SV-3 spacecraft and payload mate planned for next year.

That will be followed by environmental and acceptance testing of the completed satellite in preparation for launch in late 2010.

The first AEHF space vehicle, SV-1, is currently in the midst of thermal vacuum testing to verify spacecraft functionality and performance in a vacuum environment where the satellite is stressed at the extreme hot and cold temperatures it will experience in space. Following completion of spacecraft thermal vacuum testing, the team will perform environmental test data analysis and remaining integration and test activities necessary to prepare the vehicle for flight.

The second AEHF spacecraft core structure and the payload module were recently mated and the integrated space vehicle, SV-2, is now being readied for the start of Baseline Integrated System Test. This test will characterize performance of the integrated satellite and establish a performance baseline prior to entering environmental testing.

Lockheed currently is under contract to provide three Advanced EHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment to its customer, the Air Force Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing, located at the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. The program is in the early stages of adding a fourth spacecraft to the planned constellation.