Aerospace and Defense

November 23, 2009

GNSS Hotspots

One of 12 magnetograms recorded at Greenwich Observatory during the Great Geomagnetic Storm of 1859
1996 soccer game in the Midwest, (Rick Dikeman image)
Nouméa ground station after the flood
A pencil and a coffee cup show the size of NASA’s teeny tiny PhoneSat
Bonus Hotspot: Naro Tartaruga AUV
Pacific lamprey spawning (photo by Jeremy Monroe, Fresh Waters Illustrated)
“Return of the Bucentaurn to the Molo on Ascension Day”, by (Giovanni Antonio Canal) Canaletto
The U.S. Naval Observatory Alternate Master Clock at 2nd Space Operations Squadron, Schriever AFB in Colorado. This photo was taken in January, 2006 during the addition of a leap second. The USNO master clocks control GPS timing. They are accurate to within one second every 20 million years (Satellites are so picky! Humans, on the other hand, just want to know if we’re too late for lunch) USAF photo by A1C Jason Ridder.
Detail of Compass/ BeiDou2 system diagram
Hotspot 6: Beluga A300 600ST

Mountain View, California
Google’s open-source, customizable Android OS uses its own maps for a free GPS feature on the new Verizon Motorola “Droid” phone. It’s shaking mobile map giants Navteq and Tele Atlas and the smart phone and PND developers who lease from them. Google’s free GPS could appear on the iPhone as well.

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U.S. Air Force Plans to Improve GPS Constellation Geometry for Military Forces in Afghanistan

Combined Joint Task Force 76 helicopter carries troops and supplies over Eastern Afghanistan. Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Casteel, U.S. Army

U.S. Air Force officials are moving to reconfigure the GPS constellation to create a 27-satellite geometry that will improve the availability and accuracy of positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) capabilities for U.S. military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Although the constellation currently has 30 operational space vehicles (SVs), not including the SVN49/PRN1 that has still not been set healthy, a number of the spacecraft are located nearby other satellites — effectively creating a 24-SV geometry. (See accompanying figure.)

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By Inside GNSS
October 23, 2009

The Top Ten in PNT

Since the dawn of humanity, the sky and stars have stimulated our imagination and curiosity. As our understanding about outer space increases, so does our passion and drive to explore beyond the reaches of our own planet — and to use space to understand our own planet.

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GNSS Milestones

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the Global Positioning System.

Nor will the emerging GNSS system of systems arising from the regional and global infrastructures being put in place or modernized today: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Compass (Beidou-2), QZSS, GAGAN, IRNSS, EGNOS, WAAS, MSAS, and undoubtedly other acronyms yet to be born.

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September 19, 2009

Fireside GPS

My history with GPS began during the time of the “Cold War” in what was then Czechoslovakia. In 1975, the ION Journal of Navigation was the only information available to me.  Despite that, my team at the Czech Technical University developed a GPS receiver and measured the position of our faculty in 1984.  In those relatively isolated years, we gained a good deal of experience with GPS signals.

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Growing Up with GNSS

As I pack my bags for the damply enticing venue of Savannah, Georgia, I’m reminded that this is my 21st consecutive journey to an ION GNSS conference. And the number 21 still has a lingering resonance as the age of majority, the harbinger of having reached adulthood — if not maturity.

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September 17, 2009

OCX budget Cut Could Slow Program; First IIF Might Launch by May 2010

An increasingly likely $97.4-million cut in the GPS OCX budget for fiscal year 2010 (FY10) would slow down work on modernization of the operational control segment, but the Air Force would try to recoup any reduction in the FY11 budget.

Meanwhile, technical problems that have delayed development of the follow-on generation of Block IIF satellites are largely resolved and a first launch is expected in May 2010.

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By Inside GNSS
July 26, 2009

Satellite Numbers Game

The recent GAO report and Government Oversight subcommittee hearing on GPS sustainability generated more heat than light, with some major news media outlets leaving the impression that the sky (or at least GPS satellites) would soon be falling.

Perhaps the only silver lining in the ensuing Chicken Little phenomenon was the crude measure it provided of just how familiar (but not necessarily knowledgeable) private citizens have become with GPS.

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July 23, 2009

U.S. House of Representatives Trims $97 Million from OCX Budget, Cites Contract Delays

(Updated 11 a.m. (PDT), includes additional details from the GPS Wing)

A $97.4-million reduction in the GPS program made by the U.S. House of Representatives would affect the modernization program for the operational control segment (OCX), not the GPS III satellite budget as reported earlier.

In adopting the action of its appropriations committee, the full House approved H.R. 3326, the Department of Defense (DoD) Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) budget, on July 30. The bill was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 3. In its report on the bill, the House committee said it made the cuts because of contract delays in the OCX program.

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By Inside GNSS
July 21, 2009

ISRO Extends Raytheon Contract for GAGAN GPS Augmentation System

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has awarded a new $82 million contract to Raytheon Company to modernize the Indian air navigation system.

Raytheon will build the ground stations for the GPS-Aided Geosynchronous Augmented Navigation System (GAGAN), and the Indian Space Research Organization will provide the space segment and additional ground equipment. GAGAN will provide satellite-based navigation for civil aviation over Indian airspace and adjoining areas in south and east Asia.

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By Inside GNSS