Northrop Grumman joins Boeing in project to upgrade GPS digital waveform generator

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., 18 May 2016. Northrop Grumman Corp. is joining the Boeing Co. in a U.S. Air Force research project to improve the performance and shrink the size of the digital waveform generator on Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites.

Northrop Grumman joins Boeing in project to upgrade GPS digital waveform generator
Northrop Grumman joins Boeing in project to upgrade GPS digital waveform generator
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., 18 May 2016. Northrop Grumman Corp. is joining the Boeing Co. in a U.S. Air Force research project to improve the performance and shrink the size of the digital waveform generator on Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites.

Officials of the Air Force, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., announced a $13.5 million contract Tuesday to the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems segment in Redondo Beach, Calif., for the On-Orbit Reprogrammable Digital Waveform Generator (ORDWG) for the GPS Spacecraft Navigation Payload program.

Northrop Grumman joins the Boeing Defense, Space & Security segment in El Segundo, Calif., on the ORDWG project. Boeing won a $16.2 million contract for the project on Monday.

Northrop Grumman will define and validate an ORDWG design and architecture able to handle all current and projected navigation signals and modulations, and that will operate securely in a contested cyber environment, Air Force officials say.

Boeing, meanwhile, will advance the state-of-the art in signal generation, such as the Global Positioning System and other commercial and non-commercial position navigation and timing efforts. The ORDWG initiative is asking the two companies to build a new, improved, and smaller digital waveform generator for GPS satellites.

Related: Boeing to shrink, improve RF and microwave components for GPS digital waveform generator

GPS waveform generators today are embedded in the mission data units (MDUs) of GPS satellites, and produce several codes that the satellites broadcast to navigation receivers on the ground, at sea, and in the air use to determine their positions, speeds, and direction of travel using triangulation.

The GPS satellite waveform generator drives the design and size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) of the GPS L-band navigation payload as well as the host spacecraft bus, Air Force officials say.

The Air Force is asking Northrop Grumman and Boeing to increase the performance, flexibility, and affordability of the GPS payload by designing an improved digital waveform generator (DWG). The goal is to develop a space-qualified DWG able to replace those in current GPS satellite navigation payloads.

Experts from the two companies will design a more efficient, thermal- and radiation-tolerant reprogrammable DWG for existing GPS satellites, as well as for future enhancements that involve additional waveforms to the orbiting GPS constellation.

Related: Northrop Grumman to shrink size of GPS satellite electronics with signal-generation upgrade

The basic architecture of reprogrammable digital waveform generator includes the reconfigurable processor, memory modules, power conversion and management, and monitoring and control. The focus of the effort is on the waveform generation section.

The inputs to the digital waveform generator are the elements of the GPS navigation message, synthesized reference frequency, code epoch synchronization, and control signals. The output is a low-power signal at the L1 GPS navigation frequency modulated with the appropriate navigation signals.

On this contract Northrop Grumman will do the work in Redondo Beach, Calif., and should be finished by Nov November 2020. Boeing will do its work in Huntington Beach, Calif., and should be finished by January 2021.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems online at www.northropgrumman.com, Boeing Defense, Space & Security online at www.boeing.com/defense, or the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate at www.kirtland.af.mil/afrl_vs.

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