Lockheed Martin awarded SouthPAN contract for Australian positioning

September 16, 2022  - By
SouthPAN early Open Services coverage. OS-L1 covers mainland Australia and New Zealand. OS-DFMC and OS-PVS cover Exclusive Economic Zones in both countries. (Image: Geosciences Australia)

SouthPAN early Open Services coverage. (Image: Geosciences Australia)

The government of Australia has awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.18 billion contract to establish the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) to enhance precision.

The system is expected to be fully operational by 2028, and will be provided as a service for 19 years with an option to extend.

The program will use a unique, Lockheed Martin-developed, second-generation satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) broadcasting on two frequencies to augment signals from two GPS and Galileo.

The SouthPAN initiative

The SouthPAN initiative will deliver a signal augmenting GPS and Galileo over the Australasia region, improving accuracy from 5-10 meters to within as little as 10 centimeters.

The greater positioning accuracy and integrity of the SouthPAN signal has applications across a range of users, including civil aviation, vehicle guidance, precision agriculture for efficiencies in crop management, tracking maritime shipments, and enabling navigation for drones and other unmanned vehicles.

Lockheed Martin Australia will work with the SouthPAN project team to establish a network of GNSS reference stations and satellite uplink facilities that will enable communications and transmissions with the SouthPAN space infrastructure.

SouthPAN is a partnership between Geoscience Australia and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) under the Australia New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement.

2017 testbed

Lockheed Martin tested a second-generation SBAS testbed in partnership with Geoscience Australia in 2017.

Lockheed Martin’s second-generation SBAS technology receives and monitors basic signals data from multiple GNSS through widely distributed reference stations. This data is collected by a SBAS testbed master station, which computes corrections and integrity bounds for each GNSS satellite signal, and generates augmentation messages.

The new messages are sent to an SBAS payload hosted aboard an Inmarsat geostationary Earth orbit satellite via an uplink antenna in Uralla, New South Wales. The Inmarsat satellite rebroadcasts the augmentation messages containing corrections and integrity data to the end users’ GNSS receivers. The whole process takes less than six seconds.

Lockheed Martin provided the systems integration expertise in addition to the Uralla radio frequency uplink; GMV-Spain provided its “magicGNSS” processors; Inmarsat provided the navigation payload hosted on the 4F1 geostationary satellite. The Australia and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information coordinated the demonstrator SBAS test-bed SBAS test-bed projects.

The SouthPAN contract will expand Lockheed Martin’s investments toward sustainable business growth in Australia. Currently, Lockheed Martin programs support 4,000 Australian jobs in advanced manufacturing and technology industries. The contract will grow that footprint with additional jobs in at least four states.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the 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.