GPS: Improving performance with small satellite approach

GPS constellation
Credits: GPS

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has selected Surrey satellite Technology US LLC (SST-US) to investigate cost reduction and augmentation of the current Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation through the application of the small satellite approach.

SST-US will examine how constellations of smaller satellites could improve the overall system performance and resilience, including ways to deliver high-power signals and alternative architectures for rapid commanding that could provide system capability improvement.

The comprehensive study will incorporate details of the planned implementation, schedule, concept of operations, definition of the technical and programmatic risks, as well as the expected development, test, and operational costs. SST-US will draw upon the Surrey Satellite group's 39-mission heritage to analyze the mass, power, and cost of medium-Earth-orbit-capable small satellites and how different launch configurations could reduce the cost and accelerate the timescales associated with GPS deployment.

In addition, Dr. John Paffett, CEO of SST-US, commented, "GPS is a hugely successful and important program, but sustaining and modernizing the service requires a new approach to reduce its operating cost. Using smaller satellites forces us to consider the system requirements and implementation, and this drives us towards more innovative and optimal solutions."