The China Satellite Navigation Office (CSNO) announced completion of two years of testing of BeiDou inter-satellite links, an innovative feature of the GNSS that will reportedly produce greater accuracy for users on Earth. The test campaign encompassed 29 satellites of the third generation (BDS-3) of the now global system.
The Institute of Navigation premier conference, ION GNSS+ 2020, held annually in September, will this year have a virtual option for attendance. It will mirror the technical program presented live, September 21-25 in St. Louis, Missouri, and will give global attendees access to the latest GNSS developments and content. Virtual meeting attendance will be free for all first-time ION GNSS+ attendees.
A group of Stanford Ph.D. and Masters graduates, with work experience among them at SpaceX, Ford Motor Systems, Blue Origin, Booz Allen Hamilton and other firms, has launched a start-up to start up a low-Earth orbit successor to GPS and other GNSS. The existing services, they say, are not up to the challenges of autonomy. They founded Xona Space Systems to supplant the venerable satnav systems.
Your health and safety is important to us. NavtechGPS will be hosting its highly regarded GNSS courses this July and December in a socially distanced setting at the Hyatt House Falls Church/Merrifield hotel, along with the option to attend the courses remotely.
Just like the kids valiantly doing their homework during this strange, removed time, PNT enthusiasts young and old around the world can put their isolation to good use by honing skills at home. “GPS: An Introduction to Satellite Navigation,” the massive online open course created by Frank van Diggelen and the late Per Enge, is available on YouTube.
Britain’s own satellite navigation system, envisioned to fill the country’s Galileo void created by Brexit, may never see the light of day. Government officials don’t want to spend tax revenues to meet projected increasing costs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had enthusiastically supported a proposal for a £5 billion (U.S. $ 6.1 billion) project, and indeed it would have presented a boon to British aerospace industry. But now that he is preoccupied with the coronavirus crisis, ministers in his Cabinet are moving to quash the program as unaffordable.
Britain’s space industry had been deemed a national priority and was playing a key role in Galileo before the UK was barred from the program by its Brexit move. Surrey Satellite Navigation Ltd (SSTL) manufactured the majority, the near totality, of payloads aboard Galileo satellites now aloft. But the European Union stated allowing a non-member state, which Britain now effectively is, to use its military-grade signal would endanger security. Doubtless there were economic considerations as well.
The move to build a very British satnav system had been stimulated by a report that the British economy could lose an £1 billion per day if GPS became unavailable for any reason. A 2018 study lasting 18 months and costing £92 million assessed the feasibility of a UK satellite system; it concluded that a £5 billion cost seemed realistic. In March 2020, the project was postponed for six months as concerns grew about total costs rising further.
Photo: SSTL’s Galileo payload team with Payload #22, delivered in 2016. Courtesy SSTL.
Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai’s step this week toward approving Ligado Networks’ request to use its satellite frequencies for a terrestrial 5G service comes after nearly a decade of testing that showed both versions of their proposal would interfere with GPS users.
We stand at an existential crossroads while someone else decides our future. I don’t mean the choice of direction, currently roiling the front pages, that pits the national health against the national economy. No, this one doesn’t get the attention it deserves, outside of the PNT and the telecom communities, though arguably it could have equally long-running and widespread, perhaps catastrophic effects.
Experts at the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency have developed a software-based tool that can estimate the area where an interfering signal would degrade or deny GNSS signals, and assess the scale of the interfering signal and its potential impact on operations. Principally of interest are jamming or spoofing attacks on GPS or Galileo, of course.
The Radar Electromagnetic and Communication Coverage Tool (REACT), was sponsored by the NATO Navigation and Identification Programme of Work. It serves as a proof-of-concept of how analytical tools could support the execution of operations. The tool is also available to NATO Nations free of charge. For now, the software is only used for trial and experimentation.
To use the software, operators input information on the particular jammers – their locations and technical characteristics — and the software produces a map of the area where the interfering signals would degrade or deny GNSS receivers. This can be displayed on the NATO Core Geographical Information System (GIS) map.
The next phase of the project focuses on ensuring the software can work on NATO classified networks, which would make it more available to operational commands to test and ensure such support measures are properly integrated into NATO operations.
The software and its estimations were demonstrated to operators during exercise Trident Jupiter 2019, part 1, to collect their feedback. The exercise gathered 3,000 military and civilian personnel as participants, evaluators and observers. Thirty NATO member and partner nations participated in nine different exercise locations across Europe.
“Ten consecutive twelve-hour working days and a relentless, ever-increasing, battle-rhythm tempo came to an end as Exercise Trident Jupiter 2019-1 (TRJU19-1) reached completion on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019,” the agency stated.
TRJU19 was the largest and most complex exercise planned and executed by the Alliance’s Joint Warfare Centre to date. TRJU19-2 took place in March 2020.
“NATO’s adversaries have the ability to degrade or deny GPS-enabled capabilities,” said Jean-Philippe Saulay, a NATO Navigation and Identification Officer. “NATO must take appropriate measures to ensure Allied forces can operate in a degraded or denied environment.”
“NATO must maintain superiority in the electromagnetic environment, including but not limited to, positioning, navigation and timing services,” said Dr Enrico Casini, Communications and Navigation Engineer at the NCI Agency. “Situational awareness of navigation systems in a contested electromagnetic environment contributes to that superiority. NATO is enhancing its knowledge of electronic warfare technology,” Dr Casini said. “The electromagnetic environment has become even more contested in recent years. One aspect of that is interference with GNSS systems.”
Photos courtesy NATO Communications and Information Agency.
The European Union’s eCall emergency response system automatically calls emergency services in the event of a serious road accident, transmitting location information from a GNSS receiver (GPS and/or Galileo) installed in the car to local emergency agencies.
The 2020 Space Symposium has been rescheduled for October 31—November 2 this year, to be held as usual at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. GPS in particular and GNSS in general always form an important part of the program. The annual assembly gathers leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs from the civil, commercial, military, research, and international sectors of the world’s space community.
Plans have been submitted for a rocket launch site in the north of Scotland that could boost communications satellites into orbit in two years. No word has come regarding the possibility of launching satellites of the United Kingdom’s a-borning GNSS from this facility, but the prospect is intriguing.
In lead position on a sleigh rising from the North Pole to a height of 200 meters — standard cruising altitude for global package delivery — at 2100 hours UTC on December 24 — the youngest will hopefully be asleep by then and there’s plenty of territory to cover before dawn breaks, time’s a-wasting — navigator Rudolph will see between 40 and 45 GNSS satellites glistening in the night sky.