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Thursday, September 12, 2013

GAO: Air Force needs better analysis of new GPS sats

A modenized GPS IIR-M satellite was recently
declared operation by the Air Force after being
lofted into orbit last month. (Lockheed Martin)
As reported by Air Force Times: The Air Force should come up with better cost estimates and options for new GPS Satellites, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

The GAO was responding to an Air Force study on lower-cost space solutions for GPS. The Air Force identified nine space options ranging from $13 billion to $25 billion between 2013 and 2030, with each option based on 30 satellites instead of the current baseline of 24.

Additionally, the Air Force has recently found a method for lengthening the life of several of the GPS satellites already in orbit.

“More information on key cost drivers and cost estimates, and broader input from stakeholders would help guide future investment decisions,” GAO concluded.

“Specifically, the key cost drivers include dual launch capability (launching two satellites on a single launch vehicle), navigation satellites (smaller GPS-type satellites yet to be developed), and a nuclear detection capability. The cost estimates also excluded the ground control and user equipment segments and cost risk.

“Further, the Air Force did not obtain inputs from some key stakeholders such as those from the GPS positioning, navigation, and timing advisory community.”