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​The first GPS III satellite recently completed system-level thermal vacuum testing, validating Lockheed Martin’s design for the next generation of more powerful GPS satellites. Lockheed Martin photo.

​Lockheed Martin completed system-level thermal vacuum (TVAC) testing for the Global Positioning System III, validating the design of the assembled satellite, according to a Feb. 3 company release. During TVAC the satellite undergoes rigorous testing in a depressurized chamber to see how it will stand up to extreme temperatures in space for prolonged periods of time. It is the “most comprehensive and perceptive test performed at the spacecraft level,” said Mark Stewart, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s navigation systems mission area, in the release. “If there is an issue with your design or production processes, you are going to find it here.” The test is the latest GPS III milestone. Last spring, the first complete satellite was formed and last fall the satellite successfully completed acoustic testing, states the release. Lockheed is under contract for eight GPS III satellites​, of which the first four are at various stages of assembly and test. GPS III will provide three times better accuracy than legacy GPS systems and eight times better anti-jamming capabilities with an extended lifespan, states the release. (See also RFP for Next GPS III Production Batch.)