L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) is on track to start building the U.S. Air Force’s first Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) after completing the program’s critical design review (CDR).
L3Harris will integrate the program’s experimental payload with an ESPAStar Platform, planned for launch in 2022. The system is designed to augment space-based position, navigation and timing capabilities for warfighters.
The NTS-3 payload features a modular design and can adapt to support various mission needs. The experiment will demonstrate capabilities that can be accomplished through a stand-alone satellite constellation or as a hosted payload.
Less than a year after award, the company cleared the first development hurdle in half the time similar satellite programs take. 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. L3Harris is combining experimental antennas, flexible and secure signals, increased automation, and use of commercial command and control assets.
Designated as one of the Air Force’s first vanguard programs, NTS-3 will examine 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 opportunity for insertion of these technologies into the GPS IIIF program. The program is a collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Space and Missile Systems Center, U.S. Space Force, and Air Force Lifecycle Management Center.
“Collaboration with our customers has enabled us to move rapidly through important milestones to design this experimental satellite,” said Ed Zoiss, President, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris. “Our goal is to deliver new signals to support rapidly evolving warfighter missions.”