Aerospace and Defense

GPS III, Block IIF Programs Hit New Delays

The GPS program appears to be struggling on several fronts recently.

GPS III, the next-generation modernization project for the space and ground segments, is facing renewed uncertainty and possible schedule delays. At the same time, anticipated first launch of the follow-on block of satellites (Block IIF) with the new civil L5 signal has been postponed.

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By mikey

Civil L1 Signals: Galileo ICD, GPS L1C, New MBOC

Within weeks of a bilateral working group’s recommendation for a common civil GNSS signal design, the European Galileo and U.S. GPS programs have filed draft interface specifications (IS) or interface control documents (ICDs) for the new signals planned for the L1 frequency (around 1575 MHZ).

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By mikey
April 1, 2006

Builders Notes: Russian GLONASS at the Stage of Active Implementation

Modernized GLONASS-M satellite (left), A GLONASS-M satellite design (right)

On December 25, 2005, from the Baikonur Launch Site, there were three launched three navigation satellites belonging to the GLONASS system: one GLONASS satellite (the last of the first generation) and two new GLONASS-M satellites (see photo, above left).

This launch ensured the possibility of completing the flight tests for the modernized GLONASS system and performing the direct navigation determination using four GLONASS-M satellites simultaneously (two of these GLONASS-M satellites were launched earlier in 2003 and 2004).

On December 25, 2005, from the Baikonur Launch Site, there were three launched three navigation satellites belonging to the GLONASS system: one GLONASS satellite (the last of the first generation) and two new GLONASS-M satellites (see photo, above left).

This launch ensured the possibility of completing the flight tests for the modernized GLONASS system and performing the direct navigation determination using four GLONASS-M satellites simultaneously (two of these GLONASS-M satellites were launched earlier in 2003 and 2004).

Today, the orbital GLONASS constellation includes 16 satellites (12 GLONASS satellites and 4 GLONASS-M satellites). This article discusses the planned modernization of the GLONASS satellite navigation system with particular emphasis on the improved design of GLONASS-M satellites.

A New Commitment
The first satellite of the Russian navigation system GLONASS was launched on October 12, 1982, and the system was introduced into operation in 1993, being deployed to the complete constellation of 24 satellites in 1995. With 24 satellites in orbit, the GLONASS system can ensure the continuous global navigation for military and civil users by employing two types of signal: a signal of standard accuracy for civil users and a high-accuracy signal for military users.

When Russia faced new economical conditions in the 1990s, the financing for the space industry was reduced leading to the orbital GLONASS constellation reduction and decrease of its effectiveness.

Bearing in mind that the Space Navigation System GLONASS is a part of the national patrimony of Russia, in 2001 the president of Russian and the government of the Russian Federation ratified the policy directives setting out the intent to conclusively preserve and develop this navigation system. The Federal Target Program “Global navigation system” is one of these documents.

This program has been developed to be completed for the decade (from 2002 to 2011). During this period certain research and development activities shall be performed, including the ground experimental development for the prospective navigation spacecraft as well as flight and design tests; the ground control segment for the navigation system shall be modernized; the orbital constellation with the nominal number of satellites (24) shall be replenished.

GLONASS Modernization
The 10-year program of creation and operation of the modernized Russian Navigation System GLONASS space segment covers two stages: the current GLONASS-M satellites – at the first stage, and the proposed GLONASS-K satellites – at the second stage.

The GLONASS system is being modernized based on the following main conditions:

•     qualitative improvement of radio-navigation signal (introduction of the third frequency, increase in message rate, addition of new information into a navigation signal, etc), shift in the frequency bands keeping the possibility to work for the current existing users of the GLONASS system
•     improvement of the reliability and accuracy of the navigation support provided
•     increase of the satellite operation autonomy period and decrease of the level of the Ground Control Segment support needed to control the satellites
•     reduction of maintenance costs for satellite constellation as a result of increased satellite lifetime, reduced mass and resulted decrease of cost per satellite in-orbit
•     extension of the range of mission tasks to be performed.

With the preceding conditions implemented, there is kept the orbital configuration established earlier (three planes, with eight satellites in each plane), the orbital parameters (Н=19,400 km, i=64.8°, е=0) and the quantity of satellites in the nominal constellation (24 satellites). This enables the GLONASS operators to maintain the principles and methods of ballistic support of the satellite constellation and to provide the high-accuracy ephemeris.

New Generation Satellites
A GLONASS-М satellite, which is being developed at the first stage of the GLONASS Space navigation system modernization, has the following specific features as compared to a GLONASS satellite which is in use now:

1)     upgraded navigation radio signal
2)     implementation of intersatellite radiolinks to provide ranging measurements and data exchange between satellites located in the same plane and in different planes
3)     the stability of navigation signals increased up to 1·10-13 as a result of providing precision thermal stabilization of on board cesium frequency standards
4)     an improved dynamic model will decrease the level of unaccounted active forces impacting the satellite, mainly as result of increased accuracy of solar arrays pointing towards the Sun
5)     increased operational life of a satellite — up to seven years.

A GLONASS-М satellite can be injected into orbit by a cluster launch (three satellites by a single launch vehicle — see photo at the top of this article) from the Baikour Launch Site (using Proton LV and Breeze-M Booster) or by a single satellite launch from Plesetsk Launch Site using Soyuz-2 LV and Fregat Booster.

Spacecraft Design
A GLONASS-М satellite design (see Figure 1, above right) is based on a pressurized container inside which comfortable temperature conditions are maintained, ensuring the temperature range from 0 to 40°С, and local areas of temperature stabilization (near atom frequency standards) with ±1°С accuracy level. The temperature range is maintained by an active gas loop, shutter subsystem with electrical drivers and a set of controlled heaters. All dissipating mission equipment units are located outside the pressurized container on the antenna module in the areas not illuminated by the Sun.

Due to the fact that on board a GLONASS-M satellite there is a great amount of mission equipment units operating in the open space environment, the satellite design represents the intermediate stage between pressurized and non-pressurized design. In the nominal mode, the satellite longitudinal axis is continuously maintained pointed to the Earth, with accuracy of 0.5°, the satellite lateral axis is kept in the Sun-satellite-Earth plane with accuracy of ~0.5°, solar array axes are oriented towards the Sun with the accuracy of 2°. The orientation is provided by electrical wheels, periodically unloaded by electromagnets.

The propulsion subsystem being a single component thruster subsystem based on the catalytic thermal hydrazine separation method provides the possibility to form control torques within the initial orientation modes of the satellite, and to generate pulses for orbit correction. The orbit correction is performed after the satellite has been injected into orbit, while drifting to the designated orbital slot. High accuracy of the initial correction of orbital parameters allows keeping the satellite within the specified station limits (±5° latitude argument) without need for further corrections during the remaining lifetime.

An electric power subsystem based on nickel-hydrogen batteries and silicon solar arrays (30m2 area) provides electric power supply for onboard equipment of continuous stable voltage of 27+1-2 V and the power of up to 1400W, continuously in eclipse and illuminated orbit arcs. The onboard control subsystem based on an onboard digital computer provides data exchange between the equipment via MIL-STD-1553-B buses and performs the functions of control, diagnostic, intersatellite ranging data processing, calculation and generation of ephemeris time data.

For figures, graphs, and images, please download the PDF of the article, above.

By

Geodesy and Satellite Navigation

There has always been a love-hate relationship between geodesy and satellite navigation. Indeed, satellite positioning started life as an extension of terrestrial geodesy. When the first satellite, Sputnik 1, started orbiting the Earth in 1957, geodesists in several countries realised that satellites offered substantial potential as a geodetic positioning and navigation tool.

There has always been a love-hate relationship between geodesy and satellite navigation. Indeed, satellite positioning started life as an extension of terrestrial geodesy. When the first satellite, Sputnik 1, started orbiting the Earth in 1957, geodesists in several countries realised that satellites offered substantial potential as a geodetic positioning and navigation tool.

The basic technologies of terrestrial geodesy of the day, notably triangulation, traversing, and precise leveling, were slow and cumbersome, mainly because of the effect of the curvature of the surface of the Earth, which limited the range of measurements to theodolite observations between points situated on hilltops, observation towers, and triangulation masts.

The advent of EDM (electronic distance measurement) in the 1960s helped terrestrial geodesy, but it, too, was affected by the same limitation, namely the shortness of observable EDM ranges due to the Earth’s curvature.

Earth orbiting satellites did not suffer from this drawback. They could be viewed simultaneously from several points on Earth, and therefore direction and range measurements made, provided that the space vehicles were not obscured by high natural features or tall man-made structures. This led to several new satellite geodesy positioning methodologies.

The first of these was satellite triangulation, which was used initially to supplement and strengthen terrestrial triangulation networks. Satellite triangulation consisted of geodetic direction measurements derived from high power photographs of satellite orbits made against a stellar background of stars, with known right ascension and declination.

A few years later, this was followed by range measurements to satellites, made from Earth-bound EDM equipment to corner cube reflectors placed on the early satellites. The methodology used thus far was an extension of geodetic astronomy, with little reference to physical geodesy.

This situation changed significantly when geodesists realized that they could use the Doppler shift on the signal broadcast from a satellite to obtain differential range measurements that, together with the known Keplerian orbit of the satellite, could lead to a relatively fast positioning, or navigation, method. The Keplerian orbital motion of satellites is primarily based on the Earth’s gravity field, a subject of expertise by practitioners of physical geodesy.

This technical advance gave birth to Transit-Doppler, the first satellite navigation technology. Transit-Doppler was used in the late 1970s and early 1980s not only for the positioning of naval ships and of submarines surfacing in the polar regions, but also for the strengthening and scaling of national and continental terrestrial triangulation networks.

However, practitioners soon realized that positioning by Transit-Doppler to a reasonable degree of accuracy took several minutes, and, therefore, precluding its use as a full navigation methodology, which requires quasi-instantaneous positioning.

Enter GPS
These were the early days of a new global satellite positioning, navigation, and timing system, first called the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System, a name later shortened to just GPS. The rest is history. The early decision to base GPS on a constellation of 24 medium-Earth orbit satellites was taken on the advice, as you would expect, of geodesists at the U.S. Naval Surface Weapons Center in Dalgren, Virginia.

The close relationship between the early GPS and geodesy was further demonstrated by the adoption of WGS84, the World Geodetic System 1984, as the basis of the 3-D coordinate system of GPS. As GPS was born during the Cold War, it was declared a US military navigation system, with full access to NATO but only restricted access and down-graded positioning accuracies for civilian users.

This so-called Selective Availability (SA) gave the green light to the civilian geodetic community to come up with new methodologies that could counter the effects of SA. As always, human ingenuity did not disappoint, and two new differential techniques were developed. The first was the differential GPS (DGPS) technique, which improved relative positioning accuracies of GPS by at one order of magnitude, down to a few meters. As a result, DGPS soon became the standard methodology for the offshore positioning of oil platforms, pipelines, etc.

The next advance in improving the accuracy of satellite positioning was made on the advice of radio-astronomers, who proposed replacing the standard GPS pseudorange measurements, which are based on timing the modulated signal from satellite to receiver.

Instead, they suggested making measurements on the basic carrier frequencies of these signals, just as they did with extra-galactic signals arriving at, say, two widely spaced radio telescopes in so-called very long baseline interferometry (VLBI), leading as a by-product to the Cartesian coordinate differences between the two telescopes. This was the beginning of centimetric positioning by the carrier phase GPS method, which was later developed further by geodesists into kinematic GPS and centimetric navigation.

GPS had now become the universal high precision quasi-instantaneous positioning and navigation tool, creating the basis for hundreds of new applications. Again, geodesists led the way, concentrating on high precision scientific and engineering applications. These included surveying and mapping, positioning in offshore engineering, the monitoring of local crustal dynamics and plate tectonics, the relative vertical movements of tide gauges, and the continuous 3-D movements of critical engineering structures, such as tall buildings, dams, reservoirs, and long suspension bridges.

All of these applications required very high relative positioning accuracies, but not quasi-instantaneously as in the safety-critical navigation and landing of civilian aircraft. This came much later.

Geodesy and Navigation
Initially, GPS was considered as a standard navigation tool for military vehicles on land, sea, and air, but not for safety-critical civilian transportation. This was because, unlike military positioning and navigation, safety-critical civilian transportation not only requires quasi-instantaneous and accurate positioning, but also so-called “high integrity and good coverage.”

Geodesists will immediately realize that “integrity” stands for the geodetic concept of “reliability,” whereas “coverage” refers to the availability of a sufficient number of satellites that can be sighted by a receiver continuously and are not obscured by natural or man-made obstructions, such as high mountains, tall buildings, and the wings of an aircraft.

On its own, GPS cannot meet these requirements to the level required in safety-critical civilian transportation. Military transportation, on the other hand, has relatively modest requirements, which can be met by GPS. Indeed, you do not become a NATO Air Force pilot if you want a safe life. Flying as a passenger in a commercial airline is something else all together.

The penetration of satellite navigation, and primarily GPS, into civil aviation involved yet again, as you would expect, geodesists. They had to develop jointly with the civil aviation community the necessary theoretical and practical tools, which could be used to establish and quantify their requirements of accuracy, integrity, and coverage.

This involved the use of existing geodetic tools, such as the covariance matrix, the analysis of least squares residuals, and the well-established geodetic reliability measures. New tools were also introduced, such as the concept of RAIM or receiver autonomous integrity monitoring, based on the analysis of the least squares residuals.

Persuading Non-Geodesists
These geodetic tools, which were highly beneficial to the civil aviation community, initiated a fruitful, long-term collaboration between the two communities. However, this has not always been a straightforward and smooth relationship, and it involved — especially at the beginning — a deep suspicion of these “academic” geo-scientists. Here are a few notable examples of this love-hate relationship.

As a general rule, the existing civil aviation horizontal coordinates were based on latitudes and longitudes, with no particular reference to a reference datum. Heights in civil aviation were and still are based on barometric altimetry, on the assumption that all that matters is “the relative heighting between airplanes,” which is not affected significantly by a change in barometric pressure.

This assumption disregards, of course, the fact that the heights of natural features on the ground, such as mountains, do not change with changing barometric pressure. The first challenge was to convince the international civil aviation community that their horizontal coordinates, that is, latitudes and longitudes, required a proper geodetic datum and, as GPS was being contemplated as a future navigation tool, it made sense to adopt the same reference datum, namely WGS84. It took a while to convince the community to accept that.

The adoption of WGS84 led to the resurveying of most airports, runways, and various en route and landing navigation aids in order to bring them into WGS84, in preparation for the introduction of GPS. This led to the discovery of some large discrepancies, at airports and among navaids in many countries, between the existing horizontal coordinate values and their new WGS84 equivalents. Geodesists will be familiar with such occurrences, whenever they start dealing with a new community, whether they are civil or offshore engineers, oceanographers or meteorologists.

The first GPS receivers did not lend themselves to mass market adoption. Geodesists of a certain age will also remember some of the earliest commercial GPS receivers, such as the TI 4100 receivers, made by Texas Instruments. These early receivers operated by measuring sequentially four pseudoranges to four different satellites. Consequently, the receivers were programmed to first check the geometry of the satellites in view and decide on the best four in terms of geometrical configuration.

However, later on, with the emergence of new receivers that could measure all the available pseudoranges quasi-simultaneously, there was no need to carry on with measurements only to the “best four” satellites. One could track all available satellite signals and process these measurements by least squares, rejecting those with relatively large residuals, if any. This standard processing of observations is bread-and-butter stuff to surveyors and geodesists.

However, this was not the case with a number of navigation experts, who persisted on recommending the use of only the “best four” satellites for quite sometime, before they finally abandoned the practice.

A New Era of GNSS
Satellite navigation and positioning has changed substantially and significantly over the last 5 to 10 years. With Galileo in its development and in-orbit validation phase, the future developments in GPS IIF and GPS III, renewed interest in GLONASS, and satellite navigation initiatives in Japan, China, India, Australia, and several other countries, GNSS or the Global Navigation Satellite System is moving from being a concept, largely based on GPS alone, to a full global reality. A comprehensive program of GPS modernization currently under way aims to deliver significant improvements to both military and civil users.

The earliest mass-market applications of GPS involved road vehicles and mobile phones. In both cases, the twin aims are navigation (where am I, and how do I go to my destination?) and tracking (where is he, she, or it?). In the case of road vehicle tracking, successful applications include fleet monitoring (taxis or road transport companies), theft recovery of private cars, “black box” incident recorders, and the transport of hazardous or valuable cargoes.

Typically, most of these applications share three common features, namely prior knowledge of the proposed route, the continuous tracking of position and velocity by GPS, and the trigger of an alarm by a significant deviation.

Similarly, a number of GPS tracking applications use mobile phone technology (GSM or GPRS), but these are not as developed and widespread as vehicle tracking. Typically, these involve vulnerable people, such as young children, the elderly, key workers in some risky environments (for instance, railways), individuals with a chronic or contagious disease, and even VIPs.

Person tracking with GPS+telematics could also involve judicial cases (ordered by a court of law), of suspected criminals or anti-social elements. Other proposed applications include environmental information, location-based security, and location-sensitive marketing.

On its own, a GPS-enabled phone offers location and communication. This may answer the questions “Where is she or he?” and “Where am I?” but nothing more. However, when position and communication are combined with an appropriate geographic information system (GIS) database and a direction sensor, the combined system could answer two other very important questions, namely “What’s around me?” and “What’s that building over there?”

This could be achieved by a GPS+compass device, providing positional and directional data, which the mobile phone or the PDA transmits to a remote server. The server calculates the user’s position and identifies the building along the measured azimuth, gets the relevant information from the database, and sends it back to the client.

This is clearly valuable for the public utilities (water, gas, electricity, TV), shopping and leisure (restaurant menus, theater tickets), house hunting (details of the property advertised for sale), and of course, for visitors and tourists (museums, notable buildings, archaeological sites).

Leaving mobile phones aside, satellite navigation can also be used for location-based- security. For example, a briefcase or a portable PC can be programmed to unlock safely only in a specified location and nowhere else. This would minimize the risk of sensitive military or commercial material falling into the wrong hands.

Some working prototype systems already exist. Other location-and-context-based applications under consideration include the marketing and selling of goods, the reception of pay-TV, credit card security, spectator sports, road user charging and many others.

Indeed, the qualification of “critical application” is no longer restricted to safety-critical transportation, but it also applies now to financial-critical, legal-critical, security-critical, and business-critical applications as well. This creates a problem with standard off-the-shelf autonomous GPS receivers, which cannot operate indoors, because of signal attenuation and multipath.

Over the last few years, GPS chip and receiver manufacturers have tried, with some success, to develop high sensitivity GPS (or HS-GPS). The latest HS-GPS receivers, which incorporate up to 200,000 correlators operating in parallel, make it relatively easy to identify true pseudoranges from among the many signal and multipath reflections. Several manufacturers in the United States, Japan, Korea, and Europe, already advertise HS-GPS chips, and many other companies use such chipsets in their receivers.

GNSS Evolution
Like nearly all the technologies that preceded it, satellite navigation and positioning is going through the standard stages of development from birth to maturity. Older surveyors and geodesists may well remember the advent of EDM, using microwaves or lightwaves in the late 1960s and the 1970s. When the first EDM instruments were introduced, the distances measured were also measured with tapes, just in case.

Then came the second phase, when surveyors became fully confident about EDM and used it routinely for fast and precise range measurements. It took a few years and several critical mistakes in local mapping and national triangulation, to realize that EDM instruments could go wrong and that they had to be calibrated regularly in order to determine their accuracy and systematic biases.

The development of satellite navigation and positioning is following practically the same stages as EDM did 40 years ago. Only now we can formalize these successive stages of development of a technology and give them names by using Gartner’s famous “Hype Cycle Curve,” which was invented about 10 years ago in conjunction with new information technology products.

Using a simplified version, these successive stages of technology development are now formally called “Technology Trigger,” followed by “Peak of Inflated Expectation,” leading to “Trough of Disillusionment”, happily followed by the “Slope of Enlightenment,” and hopefully leading to the “Plateau of Productivity.”

As I write this, the first Galileo satellite, GIOVE-A, has been launched and tested successfully, opening a new era in satellite navigation. Hopefully, this will lead to the development of a large number of new critical applications — and involve close collaboration with geodesy and several other related disciplines — for the benefit of business, government and society.

Here is one last example about the strange relationship between geodesy and GPS. The U.S. delegation to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recently proposed to abolish leap seconds, and thus cut the link between Solar Time and Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and ipso facto GPS Time.

At present, whenever the difference between UTC and Solar Time approaches 0.7 second, a leap second correction is made in order to keep the difference between them under 0.9 second. This is done every few years on the recommendation of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, which monitors continuously the difference between Solar Time and UTC.

This leap second correction, which has to be applied every few years to GPS Time, apparently causes software problems because it has to programmed in manually. However, considering the difficulties that this change would cause to other scientific communities, such as astronomers, and even to users of GPS time itself for some critical applications, the U.S. proposal has now been postponed for the time being.

In conclusion, I must declare a conflict of interest. Although all the work I do at present involves GNSS, my academic background is clearly in geodesy. However, a change is in the air now, as safety-critical transportation is no longer the only critical application that has to be catered to. It has now been joined by several other emerging critical applications, notably financial-critical, legal-critical, security-critical and business-critical applications, which will also require nearly the same level of accuracy, integrity and coverage as safety-critical transportation.

This is where geodesy could step in again and create some new statistical tools, which will differentiate between the navigation and positioning systems on offer, and assess their suitability for the specific critical application.

For figures, graphs, and images, please download the PDF of the article, above.

By
March 2, 2006

White House Defense Budget Proposes GPS Funds

The Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07) budget proposal for the Department of Defense (DoD), announced in February, allocates $315,314,000 in advanced technology development for GPS, including work on the GPS III program. If approved by Congress, that would represent a sizable increase from the FY06 expenditures of more than $85 million and $33 million in FY05.

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By mikey
January 1, 2006

Bold Advice: Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on GPS

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld

DSB Task Force Members

Co-Chairmen
Robert Hermann
, Global Technology Partners, LLC
James Schlesinger, MITRE Corporation

DSB Task Force Members

Co-Chairmen
Robert Hermann
, Global Technology Partners, LLC
James Schlesinger, MITRE Corporation

Task Force Members
John Darrah, Institute for Defense Analyses
William Delaney, MIT Lincoln Laboratory
Arnold Donahue, National Academy of Public Administration
Kirk Lewis, Institute for Defense Analyses
USAF Gen. James McCarthy (Ret), U.S. Air Force Academy
Steve Moran, Raytheon Corporation
Ruth Neilan, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Robert Nesbit, MITRE Corporation
Brad Parkinson, Stanford University
James Spilker, Stanford University
John Stenbit, Private Consultant, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (ASD NII)
USAF Gen. Larry Welch (Ret), Institute for Defense Analyses

Executive Secretary
Ray Swider, ASD NII

Recommendations from a high-level Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force on the Global Positioning System, if implemented, would profoundly alter the way that GPS is managed and operated: a significantly redesigned and enlarged satellite constellation, a larger contractor role in running the system, more focused responsibility and authority for GPS, and permanent elimination of Selective Availability.

A memo from U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, drawing on the task force analysis and recommendations, has been drafted to provide guidance to departmental leaders and the Air Force officials responsible for overseeing and managing the program.

The DSB presented the group’s analysis and recommendations in a 109-page report, “The Future of the Global Positioning System,” signed by Under Secretary of Defense Kenneth Krieg and released publicly in early December. In a far-ranging critique, the report identifies potential gaps in sustainment of the GPS satellite constellation, delays in upgrading the operational control segment, and diffuse lines of authority within the Department of Defense (DoD). It calls for changes in how the United States funds GPS, how DoD manages the system and acquires military user equipment, and how the U.S. Air Force contracts for modernized GPS infrastructure and operates the satellites.

The ultimate significance of the report probably depends on the willingness and perseverance of its co-chairs, former defense and energy secretary Jim Schlesinger, and former National Reconnaissance Office director Robert Hermann, to advocate vigorously for the product of the task force’s labors.

Schlesinger briefed Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, who also co-chairs the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Executive Committee (NPEC). The DSB report was on the committee agenda for its January 26 meeting.

Established by Krieg’s predecessor Michael Wynne, the task force’s objective initially had been framed to address competitive concerns in light of Europe’s move to implement its own GNSS, Galileo.

“Without significant DoD movement on GPS, the introduction of Galileo may marginalize GPS to an expensive military use only system,” Wynne wrote in an April 9, 2004, memo to DSB Chairman William Schneider, Jr.

Within a couple of months, however, the signing of a US/EU agreement on cooperation in GPS and Galileo matters broadened the focus of the task force — fortuitously, one might argue. President Bush’s policy directive on space-based positioning, navigation, and time further influenced the scope and emphasis of the group’s work.

An impressive mix of old GPS hands and former defense leaders comprised the task force — a gathering of what used to be known in less gender-sensitive days as “graybeards” or “wise men.”

“It was a unique confluence of expertise and leadership that we won’t have again for some time,” says Jules McNeff, vice president of strategy and programs for Overlook Systems Technologies, Inc., who staffed the task force and oversaw the drafting of its report. McNeff himself has more than 20 years invested in GPS, both inside and outside of DoD.

Rattling Cages
After 18 months of study, more than a dozen outside briefings, and deliberations, this “unique” task force produced a trenchant volume of solidly reasoned findings and recommendations (The full report can be download from the Internet at <http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/2005-10-GPS_Report_Final.pdf>.)

Inevitably, such a collection of strong-willed, independent free-thinkers with a broad mandate produced some real zingers. Among those proposals:

•    Permanently eliminate Selective Availability (SA), the ability to degrade positioning accuracy in open civil signals “with the objective of deleting the hardware and software overhead for its implementation from throughout the future system.”

•    Change the constellation to a three orbital plane configuration with 30 satellites, rather than the current requirement of 24.

•    “Selectively” integrate technical personnel from private contractors into direct satellite monitoring and control operations at the Master Control Station at Schriever Air Force Base — a break from long-standing tradition of only uniformed Air Force personnel operating the satellites.

•    Prepare for discussions regarding possible use of Galileo services for military purposes by NATO member nations.

•    Require each U.S. military service to fund its own R&D program to best ensure position and timing information is integrated into equipment and operational capabilities. (The function is currently coordinated by the NAVSTAR GPS Joint Program Office.)

•    Designate a single focal point within the Office of the Secretary of Defense responsible for all GPS policy and oversight matters.

•    Limit GPS III satellite weight to permit launch of two satellites on a single mid-size launch vehicle, including the transfer, if necessary, of the Nuclear Detonation Detection System now on board GPS satellites to other host spacecraft.

Leadership and Capacity
Throughout the report’s analysis and recommendations, two concerns stand out: the task force’s strong desire to see a greater GPS system capability funded, built, and brought on-line in a timely fashion, and the perceived need to create a clear, unified line of authority and responsibility for GPS — what McNeff refers to as “a single belly button” that can be pushed to get GPS the attention it needs.

But just sustaining the GPS constellation at its current 24-satellite fully operational capability (FOC) level is at risk, according to the task force, as a result of budgetary uncertainty and delays in modernization programs. States of the task force findings:

“The current on-orbit inventory is 28 satellites; however, with expected failures, the AF Space Command December 2004 PNT Functional Availability Report reflects a nominal probability between 5–20 percent and a worst-case probability between 20–40 percent that the constellation will fall to fewer than 24 satellites in the 2007– 2012 period based on current satellite replacement schedules.”

Moreover, the capability to operationally control new GPS L2C and L5 signals will not be present in the GPS control segment until 2009 at the earliest, the report suggests.

Upgrading the Block IIR and IIF satellites to include M-code, L2C, and L5 signals, along with an annual rather than multi-year purchase strategy, nearly doubled the cost of those spacecraft. Looking ahead, the price tag for GPS III satellites will be nearly double that of the preceding generation. As a way to mitigate the expense of the GPS III program, satellites should be designed so as to allow two to be launched at the same time, even if this means eliminating unrelated functions such as NDS.

“The concern that the DSB has is that, if GPS III becomes another massive satellite, the department can’t afford it,” task force member Brad Parkinson told Inside GNSS. “GPS really needs 30 to 36 satellites, but the Air Force requirement is only 24.” Increasing the strength of GPS transmissions should not pre-empt the goal of populating the constellation with more spacecraft, adds Parkinson, who was the first director of the GPS Joint Program Office. “Geometry is more important than extra power.”

As for the leadership issue, one of the report’s recommendations proposes, “The Secretary of Defense should also clarify lines of authority and responsibility within the Department to eliminate ambiguity regarding GPS responsibilities that hinders decision making internally and that perpetuates the perception externally that the DoD has lost sight of its GPS stewardship responsibilities.”

Noting the President’s creation of the PNT Executive Committee, which occurred during the task force’s deliberations, the report says the new policy body “affords an opportunity for all stakeholders to correct deficiencies of the former Interagency GPS Executive Board [IGEB].” That assessment stems largely from the fact that the President’s national security directive creating the executive committee also elevated the level of its leadership to deputy secretaries of transportation and defense.

Nonetheless, reflecting the difficulty of the IGEB to gain sustained participation from its co-chairs, the task force recommends, “If Deputies do not routinely participate, then designated representatives to the . . . PNT Executive Committee . . . must be formally empowered to speak for and act on behalf of their respective Deputies for all matters coming before the [committee].”

Says Parkinson, “The [PNT] executive committee can do some good if it gets the attention of people who can make some changes.”

Mike Shaw, director of the National Space-Based PNT Coordination Office that will provide staff support for the executive committee, says he hopes the office will exercise “more insight responsibilities.” By this Shaw means looking into the agencies involved with GPS and identifying “disconnects” the prevent a common exercise of GPS policy, and then putting this information “in front of senior people” who can make the needed changes.
Glen Gibbons

NovAtel Inc.
The Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force report focuses primarily on project strategies for correction of a number of known GPS deficiencies, with the impetus to fix things being driven by the potential future impact of Galileo. There are some good thoughts and several opportunities for improvement.

The President’s U.S. Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Policy announced in December 2004 already highlights areas where GPS and GPS assets are vulnerable to jamming. The DSB Task Force report once again highlights this area of vulnerability, especially for civilian users.

As the supplier of GPS reference receivers to the FAA Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) network and participant in the development and supply of the Galileo Reference Chain receivers for the Galileo ground control system, NovAtel has proposed an approach using a combination of antenna array and signal processing for protection of the NovAtel network reference receivers. These extensively tested and qualified national networks could substantially improve GPS signal monitoring – if only the GPS control segment could access data from the WAAS networks in US, Japan, Europe, India and even China.

NovAtel supports the initiative to permanently increase the GPS constellation to 30 satellites, and we are ready for the new L2C and L5 signals. More space vehicles means a greater probability of seeing good geometry signals, and more signals at different frequencies will improve system accuracy and signal reliability. The DSB report does not, however, appear to consider the combined use of Galileo and GPS, which together will provide up to 60 satellites. This will really improve signal reliability and usability!

Keeping pace with the coming of Galileo is a recurring theme and the threat of a competitive system runs throughout the report. However, it does not really support the need to actively monitor and use Galileo for national programs such as WAAS and Local Area Augmentation Systems (LAAS). NovAtel has already fielded a commercial dual-mode GPS/Galileo 16 channel receiver, which can provide users with the benefits of new signals and which works with both systems.

Such receivers could be readily added to the existing WAAS reference receivers. Moreover, NovAtel expects to be deeply involved in Galileo and GPS receiver development for many years to come.

As the world moves into a GPS/Galileo dual-constellation environment, where dual use will be pervasive, it seems strange that the U.S. Department of Defense may have to remain reliant on single-mode GPS while the rest of us benefit from the improved accuracy and reliability which GPS and Galileo together will provide.

Tony Murfin
Vice President, Business Development
NovAtel, Inc.

Lockheed Martin
The Defense Science Board report thoughtfully addresses many key issues as the government looks forward to and works to define future generations of the Global Positioning System. Many of the issues raised in the report have been examined by industry and the Air Force as part of the GPS III architecture and requirements studies.

The report will serve as an important resource as the Air Force finalizes its plans to acquire next-generation space and ground architectures. GPS III is a major focus area for Lockheed Martin, and we stand ready to help the Air Force create a next-generation system that will address the challenging military transformational and civil needs across the  globe, including advanced anti-jam capabilities, improved system security and  accuracy, and reliability.

Steve Tatum
Sr. Manager, Communications
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co.

EADS Space Services
The DSB Task Force report provides a very interesting and fair overview of the Global Positioning System challenges from a performance, competitiveness and governance point of view in view of the upcoming European alternative “Galileo.” As a major actor of the future Galileo PNT system, EADS has a particular interest in the GPS evolutions and policy, especially in the field of cooperation with leading U.S. manufacturers.

The Task Force position is particularly appreciable for the navigation industry as it recommends promoting “opportunities for cooperation,” “true civil interoperability,” and considering “alternative means of funding and governance” for GPS to facilitate its international support. The underlying purpose of this collaborative approach is to improve the commercial and cost efficiency related to the PNT civil signals.

Through its recent site distribution agreement, Galileo has made a significant step forward and will provide in the near future increased satellite signal availability worldwide for navigation purposes. It is indeed a primary objective to promote the combination of the GPS and Galileo constellations for civil users in order to improve significantly the overall positioning accuracy and integrity.

Consequently, the report supports the definition of an international civil signal standardization allowing combined GPS-Galileo receivers. This common effort is necessary to facilitate a widespread usage and certification of the signals in the commercial sector. Therefore, all parties should sustain the systems interoperability with the “full disclosure of an open signal structure” and well defined geodetic and time reference transformations in receivers.

EADS also welcomes the task force proposal to “explore cooperative exchange of monitoring information” provided by the WAAS and EGNOS systems as well as a “collaborative approach” to manage and monitor both systems for better performances.

Finally, we consider that the adoption of a separate strategy and governance for the GPS military and civil activities would facilitate the system modernizations, international cooperation, and augmentations focused on the civil particular interests, while maintaining a superior military capability.

To conclude, we regret that tangible directives have still not been issued by the U.S. authorities in the direction initiated by the US-EU agreement of June 2004. It would add great benefits to the user community to initiate the creation of joint entities aimed at addressing the performance, the standardization, and the vulnerability of the GPS and Galileo signals across the Atlantic.

Martin U. Ripple
Director Galileo Program
EADS Space Services

The Boeing Company
We continue to execute on our commitment to GPS IIF production, with a goal to make the IIF the most capable and reliable navigation satellite to join the constellation. We also look forward to seeing the customer’s requirements for GPS IIIA when the request for proposal (RFP) is issued. We’re excited about the new IIIA program and await the competition.

I believe that the majority of the [DSB] comments relate to the future of GPS requirements and that is the purview of the GPS Joint Program Office (JPO).  Boeing is ready to respond to the requirements, with whatever DSB recommendations are included.  The job of the JPO is to take the opinions of all appropriate experts and meld them into a future roadmap and set of requirements which are sent to industry to propose and build. Again, Boeing stands ready to respond with a compelling proposal.

Mike Rizzo
Director, Navigation Systems
The Boeing Company

L-3/Interstate Electronics Corp.
In general, the DSB report is “right on.” Their assessments regarding current shortfalls and urgent needs bring to light the vulnerabilities that our current war fighter is faced with when depending on GPS. It is true that improved satellite coverage is needed for challenged (e.g. urban) access, modernized GPS availability to the war fighter is too far out in time, and enhanced anti-jamming (AJ) capability is not being adequately funded or fielded.

The report makes a good point about the need for sufficient, but not excessive AJ capability in user equipment. Industry has demonstrated scalable, cost-effective AJ solutions that include hardware and software-only augmentations that satisfy the DSB’s recommended minimum acceptable level of 90 dB jamming resistance. These capabilities are easily and readily incorporated into user equipment, yet there are few programs in place to incorporate and deploy it.

Agencies like the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) are financing technology programs that include AJ improvements for GPS; however, these are not pointed at fielding new equipment for the war fighter. Case in point — the Modernized Receiver Card Development Program, which is in place to help establish “proof of design” for modernized GPS does not require this type of AJ enhancement.

Hopefully, with the promulgation of the DSB report more military agencies will recognize the emerging jamming threat and programs will begin requiring the deployment of more AJ capability for GPS user equipment.

L-3/IEC agrees with the report’s assessment that the new PRONAV security architecture is essential to providing the needed Information Assurance improvements to military GPS (although one might argue with the details in the DSB’s comparison of performance benefits that PRONAV provides).

However, one must be cautious with considering the permanent removal of SA or, even more importantly, with opening up DoD acquisition policies to allow non-military GPS equipment. The gamble is the price our war fighter pays by having the wrong positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) information because he’s using vulnerable commercial GPS signals. That price can be the difference between life and death.

Carlton Richmond
Chief GPS Technologist
L3 communications, Interstate Electronics Corp

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Will Success Spoil GPS?

Like some behemoth rocket ship launched in the 1970s, the Global Positioning System sails on through an expanding universe of users and applications, seemingly imperturbable, successful beyond the expectations of its creators, an enormous momentum carrying it into the third millennium.

Like some behemoth rocket ship launched in the 1970s, the Global Positioning System sails on through an expanding universe of users and applications, seemingly imperturbable, successful beyond the expectations of its creators, an enormous momentum carrying it into the third millennium.

To all appearances, GPS is prospering more than ever: a second full signal (L2C) is becoming available to civil and commercial users, a denser ground monitoring system being built out, improved accuracies squeezed out of the algorithms and operational practices at the Master Control Station in Schriever Air Force Base, prices dropping on products with more features and functions than ever, hundreds of millions of receivers in use around the world. A follow-on generation (Block IIF) of satellites with a third civil signal (at the so-called L5 frequency) is being built by Boeing for launch beginning in 2007.

Since its first satellite launch 28 years ago, GPS has blazed a trail for satellite-based positioning, navigation, and timing. Thanks to GPS, global navigation satellite systems have gone from being a technological unknown to becoming a widely recognized utility. GPS, a model and inspiration to its imitators across the oceans.

Or is it?

In fact, for some years now GPS has been a victim of its own success. Performing better than advertised, the system has suffered from budgetary pilfering for other defense programs and risks getting lost in the shifting maze of diffuse dual-use management responsibilities.

“History has shown that the Air Force has had chronic difficulty in adequately funding GPS, even in the absence of the more expensive GPS III satellites,” observes a high-level Defense Science Board (DSB) task force report on GPS issued late last year. “If the Air Force continues to use its GPS investments as a funding source to offset other space/aircraft programs, then GPS service continuity will remain in jeopardy even without the more costly GPS III.” (See article “Bold Advice” in this issue.)

Meanwhile, an Air Force Space Command projection puts the worst-case probability of the GPS constellation falling below its fully operational capability (FOC) of 24 space vehicles sometime between 2007 and 2012 as 20–40 percent. Indeed, the task force argues for a 30-satellite constellation to ensure robust coverage in “challenged environments.”

The timelines for the last three GPS satellite development and launch programs — Block IIR, IIR-M, and III — all slid to the right, as they describe schedule delays these days.

Intermittently starved for fuel, with sporadic guidance from the helm, will new resources reach the system before its speed inevitably begins to slow, threatening its being overtaken by other GNSS vehicles?

Okay, that’s the bad news.

The good news is that no one connected to the program wants to let one of the world’s leading U.S.-branded utilities slip into the shadow of the other GNSSes under development. And steps are under way to ensure that doesn’t happen.

New Game Plan

A long-awaited next-generation program, GPS III, spent well more than hundred million dollars on conceptual studies and several years jogging in place before receiving a renewed go-ahead from the Department of Defense (DoD). The Fiscal Year 2006 (FY06) federal budget allocated $87 million for GPS III. The FY07 budget will be finalized soon in Washington, and current indications are that GPS Block III will receive at least $237 million, according to the GPS Joint Program Office (JPO). Of course, GPS III funds have been zeroed out before.

Current plans call for GPS JPO decision this summer that chooses among proposals submitted for separate space vehicle (SV) and operational control (OCX) segment contracts. Once acquisition strategies are formally approved in Washington, release of the GPS Block III SV request for proposals (RFP) are expected to be released by mid-February and later in the spring for the OCX RFP, according to JPO.

“Minor adjustments are being implemented in the program planning to reflect an incremental development and delivery approach for both acquisitions that will provide increased GPS capability sooner and more frequently over the life of the program,” the JPO told Inside GNSS. Nonetheless, an upgrade in the control segment to accommodate the new generations of satellites is behind schedule, which means that the capability to operationally control those signals will not be available until 2009 at the earliest, according to the DSB task force.

Modernizing Technology

In terms of its fundamental design, the Global Positioning System is nearly 35 years old. More recent spacecraft designs using modern electronics, new rubidium clocks, better satellite management techniques, and navigation message enhancements have improved performance. But the design of the key resource for manufacturers and users, the GPS signals-in-space, is essentially the same as when the first satellite was launched in 1978: a C/A-code on L1 (centered at 1575.42 MHz) and P/Y-code military signals at L1 and L2 (1227.60 MHz).

Over the next five years, however, this situation will change dramatically.

Beginning with SVN53/PRN17, the first modernized Block IIR (IIR-M) satellite built by Lockheed Martin and launched last September 25, GPS has gained a new open civil signal at L2 (centered at 1227.6 MHz). A third civil signal, L5 (centered at 1176.45 MHz) will arrive with the Block IIF satellites now scheduled to begin launching in 2007.

Both IIR-M and IIF satellites will offer new military M-code signals at L1 and L2 with “flex power” capability of transmitting stronger signals as needed. The L5 civil signal will be broadcast both in phase and in quadrature, with the quadrature signal being broadcast without a data message. Air Force Space Command expects to have a full complement of satellites transmitting L2C and M-code signals by 2013; for L5, fully operational capability is expected by 2014.

Generally, the new signals will be characterized by longer code sequences broadcast at a higher data rate and with slightly more power. Beginning with the IIR-M satellites, the Air Force will be able to increase and decrease power levels on P-code and M-code signals to defeat low-level enemy jamming — a capability known as “flex power.”

These new signal features will support improved ranging accuracy, faster acquisition, lower code-noise floor, better isolation between codes, reduced multipath, and better cross-correlation properties. In short, the new signals will be more robust and more available.

Looking farther ahead, another civil signal at L1 is planned to arrive with the GPS III program. Under a GNSS agreement signed with the European Union in June 2004, this will be a binary offset carrier (BOC 1,1) signal similar or identical to that of the Galileo open signal. This is expected to simplify the combined use of GPS and Galileo signals. Nominal first launch date for a GPS III spacecraft is currently 2013.

Modernization will also take place in the ground control segment. Six GPS monitoring stations operated by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (formerly the National Imagery and Mapping Agency) have been folded into the existing five Air Force GPS monitoring stations (which includes the Master Control Station at Schriever AFB, Colorado.) This will eliminate blank spots in coverage and support Air Force plans to monitor the integrity (or health) of civil signals as well as military signals.

New Political Structure

Under a presidential national security policy directive (NSPD) released in December 2004, a National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Executive Committee and Coordination Office have taken over from the Interagency GPS Executive Board (IGEB). Mike Shaw, a long-time GPS hand on both sides of the civil/military interface, stepped in toward the end of 2005 as the first director of the PNT coordination office.

Establishment of the PNT committee — now cochaired by deputy secretaries of defense and transportation, Gordon England and Maria Cino, respectively — kicked GPS leadership up a notch from that of the IGEB. Other members include representatives at the equivalent level from the departments of state, commerce, and homeland security, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The committee had met once shortly after its formation under President Bush’s NSPD, but a January 26 gathering marks its first with the current leadership. In addition to getting acquainted with one another and the PNT topic in general, the agenda covered such issues as the DSB task force report, modernization and funding of GPS, and the new UN International Committee on GNSS (see article "What in the World is the UN Doing About GNSS?" in this issue).

Without a director and coordination board in place, the executive committee was unable to get on with many of the tasks assigned it by the presidential directive, including writing a five-year plan for U.S. space-based PNT and appointing an advisory board of outside experts. With Shaw on board, the coordination board now has seven staff members detailed from agencies represented on the executive committee.

A charter for the advisory board has been drafted and awaits approval by the committee, as does a draft of an international PNT strategy prepared by the State Department under the direction of Ralph Braibanti, who heads that agency’s space and advanced technology staff.

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