Space Commerce

Harris Corporation Completes Space Qualification Testing of Hosted Payload for Satellite-based Global Aircraft Tracking System

By Marc Boucher
Press Release
March 10, 2014
Filed under ,

Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) has achieved a key milestone under a five-year contract with Aireon LLC that will create the first global satellite-based aircraft tracking system. The announcement was made during the SATELLITE 2014 Conference and Exhibition, being held March 10-13 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

> Receiver payload passed stringent testing for space and is now ready for production.
> Milestone is part of a contract with Aireon that will provide aircraft tracking through a hosted receiver payload flown on commercial Iridium NEXT satellites.
> Contract represents the largest implementation of a commercially-hosted satellite payload to date.

The company’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) 1090 Extended Squitter receiver payload has been successfully tested and qualified for simulated operation in the harsh environment of space for more than 12 years. Simulated performance testing also validated the agility of the payload to adapt to evolving aircraft traffic patterns over the same span of time.

Harris is providing Aireon with 81 of the ADS-B receiver payloads. They will be hosted onboard the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation to enable precise aircraft tracking that will optimize air traffic management around the world. Ground-based ADS-B networks, which process GPS signals and other data from aircraft, are limited by an infrastructure that cannot monitor flights over oceans or remote regions.

The Harris payloads are based on the company’s AppStar™ reconfigurable payload platform. They will be mounted on 66 low Earth-orbiting satellites, six on-orbit spares and nine ground spares that comprise the Iridium NEXT constellation. The air traffic surveillance function will be performed separately from the main mission of the spacecraft. The constellation’s main mission is providing voice and data coverage to satellite phones, pagers and integrated transceivers over Earth’s entire surface. The launch of the first Iridium NEXT satellite is planned for 2015.

“Completion of this testing verifies that our payload design works for its intended environment and moves us into the production phase,” said Bill Gattle, vice president and general manager, National Programs, Harris Government Communications Systems. “This program exemplifies the benefits of a public-private partnership model, using commercially hosted payloads to get both government and commercial mission capabilities into space without the time and cost required to build and launch separate satellites.”

“Harris has met or exceeded all of the major milestones in the development and test of the receiver payload for this groundbreaking program,” said Don Thoma, president and CEO, Aireon. “The combined, powerful offering our collective organizations will provide to the global air traffic community will transform air travel.”

About Harris Corporation

Harris is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 125 countries. Headquartered in Melbourne, Florida, the company has approximately $5 billion of annual revenue and about 14,000 employees — including 6,000 engineers and scientists. Harris is dedicated to developing best-in-class assured communications® products, systems, and services. Additional information about Harris Corporation is available at

# # #

Contact Information:

Sleighton Meyer
Harris Government Communications Systems

Jim Burke
Harris Corporation

SpaceRef co-founder, entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, nature lover and deep thinker.