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Satnews Daily
February 5th, 2020

Preliminary Design Review Successfully Passed by L3Harris for USAF Experimental Satellite Navigation Program

L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) has reached a major milestone in the U.S. Air Force’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) project and has passed the preliminary design review that defines the spacecraft’s path to delivery and allows the program to move to the next phase of development.

NTS-3 is an experimental program examining ways to improve the resiliency of the military’s positioning, navigation and timing capabilities. It will also develop key technologies relevant to the Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation, with the goal of future transition to the GPS IIIF program.

Artistic rendition of the NTS-3 in geostationary orbit. NTS-3 will be based on Northrop Grumman Innovation System’s ESPAStar bus, building on Eagle’s flight heritage. Image is courtesy of 2d Lt. Jacob Lutz, AFRL/RV

In collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the United States Space Force (USAF), L3Harris is combining experimental antennas, flexible and secure signals, increased automation, and use of commercial command and control assets.

The Space Enterprise Consortium selected L3Harris for the $84-million contract in 2018 as the prime system integrator to design, develop, integrate and test NTS-3, including ground mission applications. L3Harris has more than 40 years of experience transmitting GPS navigation signals. The company’s technology has been onboard every GPS satellite ever launched.

Arlen Biersgreen, Air Force NTS-3 Program Manager., said the NTS-3 vanguard is an experimental, end-to-end demonstration of agile, resilient space-based positioning, navigation, and timing. It has the potential for game-changing advancements to the way the Air Force provides these critical capabilities to warfighters across the Department of Defense. The commitment demonstrated by United States Space Force to partner with AFRL and support technology transition was a key element in NTS-3 being designated as an Air Force vanguard in September 2019.

Ed Zoiss, President, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris, noted that the company has moved from contract award to finishing an early design review in under one year, which is an amazing accomplishment for a satellite development program that normally takes twice that amount of time L3 Harris has proven the company can move quickly to support the U.S. Air Force’s go-fast mission requirements.