Today’s Tidbits: December 12, 2017

Today’s Tidbits: December 12, 2017

Here are our tidbits for December 12, 2017: SpaceX’s SpX-13 cargo mission to the ISS slips again; new GAO report on GPS III and OCX.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter for more news and live tweeting of events.

SpX-13 Slips Again

SpaceX announced this evening (Tuesday) that the launch of its 13th commercial cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS), SpX-13, has slipped again.  The company said it needs more time to inspect and clean the second stage fuel system “due to detection of particles.”

Originally scheduled for December 4, it was delayed to December 12, then the 13th, and now the 15th.  If it does not launch on the 15th, it will be delayed until late in December due to orbital mechanics and ISS operational constraints.  The launch time on December 15 is 10:35 am ET.

New GAO Report on GPS III and OCX

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued another report today on DOD’s new generation of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites for positioning, navigation and timing, GPS III.   The title of the report conveys its conclusions:  Global Positioning System: Better Planning and Coordination Needed to Improve Prospects for Fielding Modernized Capability. []

GPS III needs a new ground control segment, OCX, and new receiver cards for user equipment to take advantage of the “anti-jam, anti-spoof cybersecure M-code capability.” (M is for military.)  While GAO explained that the current generation of GPS satellites is good until 2021, by which time seven of the new GPS III satellites should be in orbit, it is worried about the OCX ground control segment and the receiver cards.  DOD has a “high-risk acquisition schedule” for OCX, and additional development is needed for the receiver cards to work with the approximately 700 weapons systems that will use the M-code.

GAO said that it will cost over $2.5 billion through FY2021 to integrate and test “a fraction of the weapon systems … with only 28 fully and 72 partially funded.”   It provided a graphic to show how much more needs to be done.

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