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ARFL Preparing to Launch First NTS Satellite Since 1977

NTS-3 launch

ARFL Preparing to Launch First NTS Satellite Since 1977

A key Air Force Research Laboratory official said that the launch of the third Navigation Technology Satellite is on track for late 2023. The NTS-3, which is being built by L3Harris Technologies, is envisioned to feature advanced capabilities that could set the standard for the way Global Positioning System satellites operate in the future, C4ISRNET reported Wednesday.

Arlen Biersgreen, NTS-3 program manager at the AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, told reporters that the NTS-3’s next-generation capabilities include steerable beams to provide regional coverage, a reprogrammable payload that can receive upgrades on orbit, and protections against signal jamming. He said the effort is the latest installment in decades worth of experiments in positioning, navigation and timing.

The last NTS satellite, the NTS-2, was sent to orbit in 1977 and introduced capabilities that proved foundational to what the GPS program is today, according to Biersgreen. He also expressed his team’s hope that the NTS-3 will herald the launch of many more PNT satellites in the coming years.

Biersgreen expressed optimism that the integrating and testing of the spacecraft’s hardware and software will be finished by fall in time to deliver the satellite by yearend. He added that the team recently completed key tests of major hardware and software components.

Meantime, the program manager said that for the NTS-3’s ground segment, which will operate the satellite once it is in space, the team has scheduled integrated testing this fall and has ordered the hardware for its eventual mission operations center.

Biersgreen said that once in orbit, the NTS-3 will spend its first year performing more than 100 experiments, which will test various technologies and techniques.

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Category: Space