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Our Harvest Being Gotten In

May the Future of GNSS Be Ever More Bountiful

Glen Gibbons
We give thanks for those new initiatives, yet unseen or unborn, stirring throughout the world of GNSS.

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This is, as they say in Hollywood, a wrap.

The final issue of our seventh year heads off to the printer. And tomorrow I will point my car north and west, returning as generations of Americans have done over the centuries to the family farm, the “home place,” for Thanksgiving.

Because this is the season for gathering in and counting up. For gratitude at what we have received in the year past, and for those untoward things that we have avoided.

In the Northern Hemisphere’s autumnal days, at least. Down Under, it’s spring; a new crop has been sown. And hope rises again.

So, a shout-out to the nuggets of emerging life everywhere, each special, and all linked in the miracle of creation.

But north or south, we enter a season that is for many cultures and traditions one of thanksgiving and gift-giving.

Of course, here in the United States we are thankful — oh, so very thankful — that the national election campaign is behind us.

It would be a great gift to receive governance worth the billions of dollars that candidates spent on reaching office, but perhaps too much to ask for.

So, instead, let’s hope to awake in the New Year with the self-inflicted wound of sequestration healed and the nation back to the business of solving the real problems that confront it.

Now let me be a little more GNSS-specific in these seasonal reflections.

First, we should reaffirm our gratitude for the gift of the U.S. Global Positioning System and what it has wrought.

Born in the deep freeze of the Cold War, its original purpose was to guide nuclear devastation to our former enemies’ doors. And though the shadow of those dark urges remains in a morally ambiguous policy of using drones to hunt new enemies, the benefits of GPS’s capabilities — not on the battlefield alone but in its ever-expanding, life-enhancing applications — have eclipsed the narrow purpose of its origin.

More than ever, the program is a role model for open standards, free access, and continuing improvement. Perhaps one day soon, Congress will gift the program with stable funding, protected spectrum, and less second-guessing.

Let us also rejoice at Russia’s GLONASS. A nation that has shared the race for space — sometimes leading, sometimes lagging — has also turned its GNSS program into a dual-use mission in which civil applications excel. What a gift it would be, if politics could be sorted out from peccadilloes, and the program returned to its path toward modernization.

We spare a grateful thought for Galileo, which has given Europe another opportunity to sort out when it is 27 separate nations, and when it is united in a common purpose. The long-promised/long-delayed gift of Galileo’s arrival could actually be celebrated soon.

Or not so soon. To be continued.

Thanks, too, to China’s Compass/ BeiDou, which has leaped onto the global stage in the past five years and become a notable part of that nation’s rise to prominence. BeiDou’s rapid development reflects the energy and talent of the nation.

But our hopes for China remain the same as in years past: a complete, stable, and open set of specifications that will allow other nations’ product designers and manufacturers to help bring the full value of Compass to the world.

We share with India its hopes for GAGAN and IRNSS, and look forward to its renewed presence at cooperative forums, such as the International Committee on GNSS. A place waits at the table.

Let us praise Japan, for its determined realization of QZSS — a testbed within an augmentation system within a regional GNSS, marked with excellent design and execution.

Finally, we celebrate those new initiatives, yet unseen or unborn, stirring throughout the world of GNSS. May they make future harvests ever more bountiful.

In this season, then, we give thanks for the divine and the mundane, for the transient and the eternal. Let us share the commonwealth of our humanity anew.

Copyright © 2017 Gibbons Media & Research LLC, all rights reserved.

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