Usually when a satellite needs to be upgraded, it is simply replaced by a new satellite. Lockheed Martin is looking to change that and redesign the bus used for Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites so that it can be upgraded or upgraded with new hardware while in orbit. Word of the changes to the satellite came from a Lockheed Martin executive earlier this week.
Eric Brown, Lockheed Martin’s senior director of military space mission strategy, said the new design is a significant change compared to traditional thinking. With conventional thinking, once something is in orbit, “I’m done with it,” according to Brown. He says now Thinking It is a service in space, and logistics services will become available in the coming years.
Lockheed is redesigning the LM2100 commercial bus that will be used in a future version of the GPS 3 satellites known as GPS 3F. Lockheed is currently expecting the third satellite in its 3F GPS line to have the new and updated bus. The US Air Force and Lockheed Martin are making clear that in-orbit satellite service is an emerging technology in the space industry, and the Department of Defense should utilize it in its fleet of satellites.
Innovations in orbit logistics are prompting the satellite building industry to consider new ways of designing satellites. There will be an ability to enable docking in orbit allowing for in-orbit upgrades to introduce new technologies for processor, sensors, and other technologies.
By upgrading satellites to be serviceable while in orbit, the life and utility of satellites can be increased, and money can be saved. The LM2100 is a large platform used for larger satellites in the area from 2300 to 6500 kg. Lockheed Martin has also confirmed that it will work with Aerojet Rocketdyne in space logistics.