L3Harris passes design review for NTS-3 navigation satellite

February 24, 2020  - By
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L3Harris Technologies has reached a major milestone in the U.S. Air Force’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) project — passing the preliminary design review that defines the spacecraft’s path to delivery and allows the program to move to the next phase of development.

NTS-3 is an experimental program examining ways to improve the resiliency of the military’s positioning, navigation and timing capabilities. It will also develop key technologies relevant to the Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation, with the goal of future transition to the GPS IIIF program.

In collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Space and Missile Systems Center, and United States Space Force, L3Harris is combining experimental antennas, flexible and secure signals, increased automation, and use of commercial command and control assets.

Satellite NTS-3 closeup. (Illustration: Lt. Jacob Lutz, AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate)

Satellite NTS-3 closeup. (Illustration: Lt. Jacob Lutz, AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate)

“The NTS-3 vanguard is an experimental, end-to-end demonstration of agile, resilient space-based positioning, navigation, and timing,” said Arlen Biersgreen, Air Force NTS-3 program manager. “It has the potential for game-changing advancements to the way the Air Force provides these critical capabilities to warfighters across the Department of Defense. The commitment demonstrated by United States Space Force to partner with AFRL and support technology transition was a key element in NTS-3 being designated as an Air Force vanguard in September 2019.”

The Space Enterprise Consortium selected L3Harris for the $84-million contract in 2018 as the prime system integrator to design, develop, integrate and test NTS-3, including ground mission applications.

“We have moved from contract award to finishing an early design review in under one year, which is an amazing accomplishment for a satellite development program that normally takes twice that amount of time,” said Ed Zoiss, President, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris. “We have proven we can move quickly to support the Air Force’s go-fast mission requirements.”

L3Harris has more than 40 years of experience transmitting GPS navigation signals. The company’s technology has been onboard every GPS satellite ever launched.

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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