Satellite billed as the ‘future GPS’ begins key tests

L3Harris announced Jan. 26 it delivered the Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) to the U.S. Air Force and the spacecraft is now undergoing final tests in preparation for a planned launch in late 2023.

NTS-3 is an experiment funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory that will broadcast positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) signals from geostationary Earth orbit. The goal is to demonstrate next-generation PNT technologies for the U.S. military and provide an alternative to GPS…

AFRL and MITRE Corp. developed a reprogrammable software-defined receiver that will allow users to receive both legacy GPS and the new NTS-3 signals. Parsons Corp. is developing the ground system.

Once in orbit, NTS-3 will operate independently of GPS. AFRL said the new signal technology and advanced waveforms will make it more difficult for adversaries to jam or spoof.