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June 16, 2009

ESA Signs Galileo IOV Launch, FOC Satellite Contracts

On June 15, the European Space Agency (ESA) signed contracts for launch services on the Galileo in-orbit validation (IOV) satellites as well as two additional contracts for “long lead items” needed to build the full operational capability (FOC) Galileo constellation of satellites.

The first contract, with Arianespace, will provide launch services for the four IOV Galileo satellites that will be placed in orbit by the end of 2010. Two Soyuz rockets, each carrying two Galileo spacecraft, will launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

June 15, 2009

eLoran: The Never-Ending Story?

To say that enhanced Loran (eLoran) has been an on-again off-again program would give short shrift to multiple generations of official ambivalence about the proposed backup for GPS.

The latest chapter began on June 4 when Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) introduced S. 1194, the Coast Guard Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (FY2010/11).

Among other details, the measure directs the Secretary of Transportation to continue the Loran system until a plan has been drawn up and implemented to transition the program to eLoran.

June 4, 2009

Changes in Store for U.S. Military GPS Equipment Development and Acquisition

Development and acquisition of military GPS user equipment (MGUE) are taking on new dimensions across the board — institutionally, procedurally, and technologically.

Along the way, the changes could redefine relationships within the Department of Defense (DoD) and between the agency and industry.

At the agency level, a proposal is forthcoming to “stand up” a positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) user equipment joint program office (JPO) that would incorporate UE responsibilities (and budgets) now exercised by the GPS Wing (GPSW).

May 25, 2009

GAO Report on GPS Satellite Constellation Status: The Pushback

Two weeks after a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report warned of potential gaps in the GPS satellite constellation, reassurances from Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Air Force, GPS program officials, and industry are slowly restoring calm to an anxious public.

Coupled with a May 7 congressional hearing (and subsequent media coverage) that fanned the flames, the report described scenarios — for instance a two-year setback in launching the first GPS III spacecraft — that could lead to deterioration in the quality of GPS service due to delays in building new generations of satellites and past program management problems. The news coverage drew primarily on the GAO report and prepared statements presented at the hearing and not on the much more interesting dialog with subcommittee members captured on video or on the assumptions and methodology underlying the constellation analysis.

May 21, 2009

Obama 2010 GPS Budget Calls for $1 Billion+

The president’s proposed Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) budget would provide more than $1 billion for GPS and related U.S. space-based positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) programs.

May 21, 2009

First Look: Initial Observations of the GPS L5 Broadcast and L1 Signal Anomaly

(Updated May 22, 2009) Leading researchers from Ohio University, Stanford, and the University of Colorado have released their initial observations of the GPS L5 signal broadcast, including an anomaly in SVN49's L1 signal reported by the GPS Wing's chief engineer on May 4.

The U.S. Air Force switched on the eagerly awaited, modernized L5 signal on April 10 after the successful launch of the newest GPS Block IIR-M satellite - SVN49 - in March. This was the first broadcast of a GPS signal in a frequency band dedicated solely for civilian use.

May 21, 2009

New Leaders to Gather for First Obama-Era PNT ExCom Meeting

A June 18 meeting of the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Executive Committee (ExCom) will bring together leaders of the Obama administration in the key interagency setting for GPS issues.

Established under a 2004 National Presidential Security Directive, the ExCom advises and coordinates federal departments and agencies on matters concerning the Global Positioning System and related systems. The deputy secretaries of defense and transportation and co-chair the committee, which includes equivalent-level members from seven other federal agencies.

May 21, 2009

GPS III Passes Preliminary Design Review

The Lockheed Martin team developing the next-generation GPS III satellites has successfully completed a major program milestone, the preliminary design review (PDR) conducted by the U.S. Air Force’s GPS Wing.

Underlining the importance placed on meeting a 2014 first-launch schedule, nearly 150 representatives from the GPS Wing and user communities, including representatives from the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Space Command, the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Aviation Agency participated in the four-day Space Vehicle PDR at Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

May 13, 2009

GAO Says GPS III Launch Delay Could Drop Constellation below 24 Satellites

As if a puzzling signal anomaly on the latest GPS Block IIR-M satellite and continued struggles in the long-delayed Block IIF schedule hadn’t created enough pressure, a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report sketches dire prospects for the GPS program.

May 12, 2009

GPS and the Next Solar Max: Space Weather Study Seeks GNSS Users' Help

The solar wind plays havoc with GNSS ground and space segments – destroying electrical transformers and the electronic systems on satellites.

In fact, space weather is the single largest contributor to single-frequency GPS errors and also to differential GPS.2. And right now, we have only three years until the next Solar Max.

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