Military Embedded Systems

GPS-alternative satellite delivered to AFRL for testing


January 30, 2023

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

AFRL photo.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. L3Harris Technologies recently delivered the Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) space vehicle -- a satellite billed as an alternative to GPS -- to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) integration and test facility at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. 

NTS-3 is an experimental satellite funded by the AFRL that plans to broadcast positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) signals from geostationary Earth orbit with the goal of demonstrating next-generation PNT technologies for the U.S. military and provide an alternative to GPS. According to AFRL information, the NTS-3 is currently undergoing final tests to prepare for a planned launch in late 2023. 

The AFRL report states that the Global Navigation Satellite System Test Architecture (GNSSTA) developed by the MITRE Corporation in partnership with the AFRL Sensors Directorate is key to meeting end-to-end NTS-3 mission objectives. GNSSTA is a reprogrammable software-defined receiver that enables users to receive both legacy GPS signals along with the advanced signals generated by NTS-3, and is aimed at paving the way for future operational receivers to provide the Space Force with options to prevent and respond quickly to common battlefield threats like GPS jamming and spoofing.

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