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The prototype arrived at Lockheed Martin's testing facility on Monday

A Lockheed Martin-built prototype for the upcoming Global Positioning System (GPS) upgrade was recently completed and shipped to a facility in Colorado to begin testing.

The U.S. Air Force Space Command, which supervises the U.S.' GPS satellites from the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, is looking to launch a $5.5 billion update to the GPS. The upgrade is intended to make both military and civilian receivers more powerful and accurate, and to also allow civilian receivers to use signals from not only the U.S. satellite navigation systems, but European and Russian systems too. 

The new GPS satellites are called Block lll, and the Pentagon plans to buy about 32 of them to launch into space at a cost of $5.5 billion. The U.S. government looked to Lockheed Martin to build and test the prototype in a $1.5 billion Air Force contract. The company will also build the first two satellites for space launch and potentially 10 more.

The prototype made its way to Lockheed Martin's $80 million test facility in Colorado on Monday, where final assembly work and testing will take place.

Once completed, the Block lll satellites are expected to allow civilian and military users to identify their position within 3 feet as opposed to 10 feet with current GPS technology. The Block lll satellites will also make it more difficult for enemies to interfere with signals.

Such GPS systems are advantageous for car use or smartphone use to weapons use.

The prototype will never be launched into space, but the first Block lll model after the prototype will be sent to space in 2014 after undergoing testing next year.

Sources: Digital Trends, Associated Press

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RE: Arent Military and Civilian different?
By lennylim on 12/14/2011 2:43:34 PM , Rating: 2
Military units differ in some ways. I'm sure this is not comprehensive, because it is publicly known knowledge.

- Codes and algorithm to correct for selective availability if it is ever turned off

- Access to certain signals (L2, L3 band) and decryption keys for P(Y) code and M code.

- No built-in limitation on altitude and speed (this is to prevent civilian chipsets being used in, say, missiles)

If you want highly accurate civilian units, look at some of the surveyor grade units. For more affordable hiking units, look at the Garmin eTrex 10, 20 or 30 units, which can receive and process signals from GPS and GLONASS at the same time.

By Jedi2155 on 12/14/2011 7:02:07 PM , Rating: 2
If you want extreme accuracy, you can get one of these lab grade GPS loggers which are used to determine automotive braking distances and acceleration rates.

Accurate to 1 meter CEP. I've had the chance to use these and I've shock at how good it is. Only problem is that they're around $10,000 each.

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