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GNSS Trilogy 2006

Our Story Thus Far


“Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. . . .”

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Oops! Wait a minute! Hold your horses there, Homer; it’s not that Odyssey. We’re talking about the GNSS odyssey.

More than 30 years in the making, not a mere decade. And its heroes didn’t simply drift idly about the wine-dark Mediterranean enjoying the rosy-fingered dawn like Odysseus and his buddies. The GNSS crew — GPS, GLONASS, and now Galileo — has traveled from California to Colorado to Brussels, Moscow, India, Kazakhstan, Beijing, Tokyo, and beyond!

Oh, sure, Circe and Polyphemus and the ghost of Agamemnon made for some rough customers, but try launch failures, dissolution of a nation, the labyrinths of Brussels and Washington, and that most frightful ogre: the Office of Management and Budget.

No, it’s not The Lord of the Rings or even the first three installments of Harry Potter’s adventures, but the GNSS trilogy has produced a fascinating story line and introduced a kind of magic to the real world. It has created a vast popular utility as profound in its own right as the Internet or mobile phones — with the ability to discover connections among people, places, and things that were heretofore impossible and nearly unimaginable.

But getting there hasn’t been easy. Read on…

Part I: Will Success Spoil GPS?
The more that the Global Positioning System has exceeded the expectations of its creators, the more challenges it has faced.

Part II: GLONASS: The Once and Future GNSS
The end of the Soviet Union almost spelled the end of GLONASS. But 15 years later, a new leadership, new mission, and new resources are bringing the Russian system back on line.

Part III: The Perils (and Pearls) of Galileo
Getting Galileo approved and on its way to being built required the unruly fusion of 27 countries, two multinational organizations, repeated confrontations among their political and industrial leaders, international asides and interventions, and hair-raising brinkmanship. Will this novel hybrid ever bloom?

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