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March 23, 2009

GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Compass: What GNSS Race? What Competition

(This story appears in the "GNSS World" department in the March-April 2009 issue of Inside GNSS.)

Munich’s high-level satnav summit the first week in March opened with a plenary titled, “The Worldwide Race in GNSS” and closed with a panel, “The Competition among the Big Four.”

March 18, 2009

More Problems with GPS IIF; IIR-(20)M Is L5’s Plan B

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water . . .

Discovery of a power anomaly in signal generator of the first GPS Block IIF space vehicle (SV) has thrown a new wrinkle into the long-delayed follow-on generation of spacecraft.

Meanwhile, it’s all systems go (and all fingers crossed) for launch of a modernized Block IIR satellite IIR-20(M) with the demonstration L5 navigation payload designed to secure priority GPS access to the frequency.

March 6, 2009

Munich Summit Highlights Satellite Navigation Plans, GNSS Program Struggles

Highlights of the 2009 Munich Satellite Navigation Summit (March 3- 5):
Russia will place its first CDMA signal on the GLONASS L3 frequency that overlaps the European Galileo E5b spectrum; China plans to launch three Compass satellites this year and seven more next year to provide a regional capability for Compass/Beidou, followed by completion of the full 30-MEO, 5-GEO constellation after 2015 and before 2020; Galileo program discussions revealed tensions around negotiations with China about a frequency overlay of Compass signals on the security-oriented Public Regulated Service as well as the question of whether the costs to build Galileo can be kept within the €3.4-billion limit agreed by the European Council and the European Parliament; the GPS Block IIR-20(M) satellite with an L5 demonstration payload will be launched later this month in what may be the program's last chance to secure primary GPS access to the frequency.

March 4, 2009

FY 2010 Budget Outline Proposes to End Loran

Ready for another round?

President Obama appears to have weighed in on the long-running Loran/eLoran debate — on the side of terminating the terrestrial radionavigation system and, apparently, its enhanced version that had been proposed as a backup to GPS.

In a February 26 message to U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) members, Vice-Admiral V. S. Crea, USCG Vice Commandant and Chief Operating Officer, said the Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) budget outlined in a document sent to Congress calls for termination of Loran-C in the coming year.

February 26, 2009

Federal Commission Backs Mileage Fees over Gas Taxes, Champions GPS Technology

Maybe it was just poor timing.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s passing comment that systems for assessing fees based on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rather than gasoline taxes was quickly shot down by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs in a February 20 news conference.

On February 26, however, the congressionally mandated National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission (NSTIFC) came out with a recommendation the United States should do exactly that — and pointed firmly to GNSS systems as a key enabling technology for accomplishing such a transition.

February 22, 2009

GPS-Monitored Vehicle Fees: Change You Can’t Believe In

One change that apparently won’t happen under the Obama administration is replacing the federal gasoline tax with a GPS-monitored mileage fee.

In an interview with the Associated Press last week, U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) Secretary Ray LaHood had suggested that his agency should look at a “vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled.”

It was one of the shortest flights of a trial balloon so far this year.

February 16, 2009

CSR-SiRF Merger Pairs Struggling Bluetooth and GPS Powerhouses - and Shows Handset Platform Dominance

Merger plans recently announced by CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio) plc and SiRF Technology Inc. connote more than the evolving fortunes and common future of a Cambridge, UK–based Bluetooth and WiFi provider and a San Jose, California GPS manufacturer.

It reaffirms the emergence of mobile phone handsets as a dominant location platform, the convergence of wireless communications and positioning at the chip level, and the trend toward absorption by semiconductor manufacturers of independent GPS technology providers who offer only single-frequency solutions.

February 12, 2009

Satellite Collision Raises Issue of Similar GNSS Risks

The February 10 collision of an active Iridium satellite and a defunct Russian military communications satellite underlines a concern raised recently at the International Committee on GNSS (ICG) about the need to include coordination of space vehicle (SV) operations.

In comments during a session of Working Group A (compatibility and interoperability) during the ICG’s recent meeting in Pasadena, California, Professor Grigory Stupak of the Russian Institute for Space Device Engineering (RISDE), noted that Russia’s “position is that compatibility includes more than just signals,” among other things, “the sharing of orbits and disposal of satellites.”

Similar concerns have been expressed in recent years by organizations that have studied the possibility of GNSS satellites, particularly those that have been “parked” in disposal or graveyard orbits, to drift and possibly collide with one another.

February 12, 2009

New Russian GLONASS Satellites in Operation

The last of three GLONASS satellites launched December 25 began broadcasting a healthy navigation signal today (February 12), according to the Russian Space Agency’s Information-Analytical Center, bringing Russia’s operational GNSS constellation to 20 spacecraft.

One satellite, space vehicle number (SVN) 701 launched more than five years ago, has been off-line and in “maintenance” status for the last month. Another spacecraft, SVN 722, is transmitting only in the GLONASS L1 band.

February 11, 2009

Lynn Approved as Deputy Secretary of Defense

Raytheon Corporation executive William Lynn received an overwhelming vote of approval today (February 11, 2009) from the U.S. Senate to become the U.S. deputy secretary of defense. The 93 to 4 vote — with only four Republicans in opposition — did not reflect the considerable controversy surrounding Lynn’s nomination by President Obama.

Jammer Dectector
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