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Thinking Aloud • June 2010

Deselecting Unavailability

Only a decade ago, but a world away: 2000.

The last year of the old century that everyone thought was the first of the new.

When flying was still a delight, rather than a worrisome bother.

When the expected — a global Y2K bug–bitten IT meltdown — didn’t happen, and the much-anticipated but still-unexpected did: the United States turned off GPS selective availability.

Ventures • May 29, 2010

Trimble and Russian Space Systems Form Joint Venture for Geodetic Infrastructure

Trimble and Russian Space Systems have announced that they have signed a definitive agreement to form a 50/50 joint venture that will be based in Moscow.

Rusnavgeoset will be responsible for selling commercial GNSS geodetic network infrastructure systems localized for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

May 28, 2010

GPS IIF: Up at Last!

Boeing announced today (May 28) that it has acquired the first on-orbit signals from the first GPS Block IIF satellite, the inaugural spacecraft in a 12-satellite block that the company is building. The signals indicate that the spacecraft bus is functioning normally and ready to begin orbital maneuvers and operational testing.

The satellite was launched May 27 on its fourth attempt aboard a Delta IV rocket at 11:00 (EDT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. At 2:33 a.m. today, the satellite separated from the rocket's upper stage, and a ground station on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean received the first signals from the newest member of the Air Force's GPS satellite constellation, according to Boeing.

May 26, 2010

Is GPS Vulnerability Leading the U.S. Towards a More Cooperative Space Posture?

As the United States enters a season of crucial Department of Defense (DoD) policy reviews, GPS may be riding the wave or caught in the ebb tide, depending on how one reads the signs. But a softer line toward cooperative efforts on GNSS may be emerging, if only because of concerns about U.S. dependence on a potentially vulnerable system.

The Quadrennial Defense Review, the Space Posture Review, and program objective memorandums (POMs) that will span fiscal 2012-2016 all are in process. Meanwhile, DoD is pushing for reform of export controls, which have frequently constrained the ability of dual-use technologies such as GPS equipment and expertise to be exported profitably and in a timely manner.

May 25, 2010

IIF SV1 Launch: Cancellation No. 4 and Counting

(UPDATED May 25) The next launch attempt of the first GPS IIF space vehicle (SV1)  has been tentatively set at Cape Canaveral for Thursday, May 27, when the launch window will be 11-11:19 p.m. EDT.

Originally scheduled for May 20, the launch was delayed several times. The fourth launch attempt  was scrubbed Sunday night.

May 24, 2010

GPS Block IIF: A Third Cancellation

The third time wasn't the charm for an attempted first launch of a GPS follow-on (Block IIF) generation of satellites.

Problems with ground support equipment and then with the telemetry signal between the spacecraft and the ground equipment have delayed initial launch of the new-generation satellite three times in the last four days.

Originally scheduled for May 20, the launch was postponed again on May 21 and May 23. Mission controllers hope to get the IIF off the ground on May 24.

May 22, 2010

GPS IIF Launch Scrubbed on Pad for Second Time

Launch managers canceled the second attempt to place the first GPS Block IIF satellite in orbit on Friday, May 21, when the telemetry signal between the spacecraft and the satellite ground support equipment was lost minutes before scheduled liftoff. The problem could not be resolved in time to launch during the 18-minute launch window. 

Another launch attempt has been set for Sunday, May 23, betwen 11:17 and 11:35 p.m. (EDT). The first launch effort on May 20 was called off when a problem with ground support equipment was detected during the day.

Events • May 20, 2010

ESA Sponsors GNSS Summer School this September in Denmark

Online registration is open for the fourth International Summer School on Global Navigation Satellite systems. The 10-day course will take place at the GPS Center at Aalborg University in Slettestrand, Denmark from Wednesday afternoon, September 1 through Saturday morning, September 11.

Held for the first two years at University FAF Munich, it now takes place in Denmark with two new lead sponsors, the European Space Agency and Nokia.

September 1, 2010 - September 11, 2010
Slettestrand, Denmark
May 19, 2010

Equipment Problem Delays First GPS IIF Launch

A ground equipment problem has caused a 24-hour delay in launch of the first GPS IIF satellite (GPS IIF-SV1).

Originally scheduled for late May 20, the launch attempt has been reslotted to a May 21 launch window of 11:25 to 11:43 p.m. (EDT)

During normal processing for the launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, mission managers determined that a piece of ground support equipment used to control one of the swing arms on the fixed umbilical tower was not operating correctly and needed replacing.

Replacing the GSE component will add one day to launch processing, according to the United Launch Alliance managers. This will be the first launch of a GPS satellite on the Boeing Delta IV rocket.

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