GPS III is beginning to look like “Exhibit A” in the Air Force’s case that it has fixed its once-broken space acquisition culture. Both the overhead and ground segments of the next-generation Global Positioning System, known as GPS III, are on budget and on schedule as they progress steadily to providing big gains in functionality for users. Halfway through the development cycle, the space segment has only consumed three of the 220 days in safety margin set aside, and most of the software for the OCX ground segment has already been generated. That’s good news, because the aging GPS constellation in place today needs better defenses against jamming of its military signal and can’t mesh with navigation satellites being built by other countries. The antiquated ground segment is vulnerable to cyber attack and lacks features needed to meet future needs. I have written a commentary for Space News explaining why there is no alternative to this model space program, which you can read here.
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