Boeing has successfully assembled and integrated all flight hardware onto the first Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellite, which will bring new capabilities to the GPS constellation such as full onboard encrypted military code, a new civil signal, crosslink enhancements, signal power increases and longer design life.
Boeing is building 12 GPS Block IIF satellites under contract from the Navstar GPS Wing at the Space and Missile Systems Centre in Los Angeles.
The company said it was working closely with the US Air Force to deliver new, advanced GPS capabilities to the military, civil government and the general public.
The satellite's sophisticated L-band payload will include new hardware that serves the civil user community. Designed to enhance non-safety-critical applications, the signals will improve aviation and other precision safety signals.
Technicians are preparing GPS IIF for key dynamic environmental tests that will confirm its structural design and mechanical integrity. They also are attaching the solar panels and configuring the satellite before it undergoes several physical tests.
The tests will help ensure robust mission assurance with an emphasis on product integrity and mission success.
Each GPS IIF satellite will complete acoustic stress tests using high-powered speakers to verify that the spacecraft can tolerate the high sound pressure levels during launches; mechanical tests similar to a separation test to make sure it disconnects cleanly and correctly from the launch vehicle; tests of its deployable mechanisms such as the solar wings and the antenna to ensure that they release correctly on-orbit; and finally, thermal vacuum testing to confirm its ability to operate in a vacuum and under the extreme temperatures of space.
Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defence businesses specialising in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions. Headquartered in St Louis, Missouri, it is a $32.4 billion business with 72,000 employees worldwide.