As part of the next phase of GPS III integration, the GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST), a full-sized, functional prototype, has arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for further testing. Delivered by Lockheed Martin, the GNST’s processing activities will be fully vetted for use in the first flight GPS III satellite, which is expected to arrive at the station in 2014. It is slated for launch by the US Air Force in 2015.

In this phase, the GNST will dry-run launch base space-vehicle processing activities and other testing that will be experienced by future flight GPS III satellites. The GNST has already completed a series of high-fidelity pathfinding activities including integration, test, and environmental checkouts. In addition, the testbed has helped to discover and fix development issues within the GPS III flight space vehicle, SV 01. In doing so, it has reduced the risk for flight and improved mission assurance while decreasing program costs. Lockheed Martin, in conjunction with the Air Force, is contracted with building this and three other GPS III satellites. Those satellites promise to deliver three times the accuracy of previous systems and extend spacecraft life by 25%. The Air Force Space Command’s 2ndSpace Operations Squadron (2SOPS) manages and operates all GPS constellations for civil and military uses.