|His Coordinates, Interviews|| |
Everyone gets it or no-one does
What’s new in the U.S. space-based PNT policy released in 2004?
The previous policy published in 1996 was titled the “U.S. GPS Policy”. If you look back in the 1990’s, GPS was the only large constellation of navigation satellites providing full, worldwide service. Since then, the world’s landscape has significantly changed in space-based PNT. Russia, Japan, Europe, India, China, and other nations have become involved in various efforts. In addition, many new augmentation systems came online within the United States and internationally.
We recognized GPS was not the only system, so the policy became the “U.S. Space-based PNT Policy.” It addresses GPS, U.S. augmentations, and all similar systems. We also recognized the increasingly critical role of PNT to our nation, so a National Executive Committee was established at a very senior level to provide leadeship on space-based PNT matters. One of the goals of the 2004 policy is to provide services that are at least competitive with other systems, while promoting interoperability andcompatibility among them. Compatibility means systems do no harm to each other, and interoperability means the signals of all the systems can be used together. The intent of the new policy is to ensure we provide our services effectively and efficiently and to emphasize cooperation with other countries fielding space-based PNT systems.
Are there are more restrictions for other countries or is it becoming more open?
I don’t think it is becoming more restrictive. From the U.S. perspective, the 2004 policy is how the U.S. intends to effectively and efficiently manageTelecommunication Union, World Trade Organization, and other such bodies. In addition, an International Committee of GNSS was recently established that is sponsored by the U.N. Offi ce of Outer Space Affairs.
Cooperation within these existing structures may be suffi cient to ensure the best results for worldwide space-based PNT users. It is too early to consider creating a separate egulatory body.
There is a general impression the U.S. can switch GPS on and off at will or by action by the Pentagon. Is that how the GPS system works?
Absolutely not. Unfortunately, that misperception has become a bit of a myth or media “legend.” In reality, since GPS became fully operational in 1995, it has never been switched off. That includes during the September 11, 2001, terrorist crisis and during the ongoing confl icts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
From a practical perspective, if the U.S. were to switch GPS off, we would be switching it off for ourselves, too. That would do as much if not more harm to the U.S. GPS cannot be electively turned off by region; either everybody gets it throughout the world or nobody does. As demonstrated over the past 14 years, the U.S. remains committed to providing uninterrupted, reliable service throughout the world for peaceful purposes.
But aren’t other countries developing their own systems because of the perception the U.S. can switch off GPS?
That certainly could be part of their motivation. Regardless, the U.S. has committed to providing a worldwide utility, free of direct user fees. The U.S. has met that commitment for more than a decade, and will continue to meet it in the future. We are also committed to cooperation with other space-based PNT providers to ensureour own activities and how we represent the national policy externally. Again, national PNT policy reiterates many of the same policies we’ve had in effect since the mid 1990s. World-wide acceptance of GPS has been largely due to stable, predictable U.S. policy and very dependable performance by GPS. The U.S. will continue to modernize and improve GPS while recognizing that other countries will pursue their own interests. However, the U.S. policy emphasizes partnership and cooperation, not competition or confrontation, with other space-based PNT providers. The goal is compatibility and interoperability among space-based PNT services. We have made a considerable effort to communicate this policy to the international community and will continue to do so.
What do you think about the Galileo program?
Galileo is a planned system that has a number of unresolved issues, including adequate funding. The EU is trying to do many difficult things in order to field the system by mid-decade. The process is extremely complex and challenging. We are watching the program with great interest, as it has the potential to impact the global user community, commercial markets, and national security interests. The U.S. already has formal agreements in place regarding cooperation with the EU and the Galileo program. As Galileo continues to evolve, we will continue to watch to ensure the U.S. goals of compatibility, interoperability, open market access, etc., are still served.
What is your estimate about Galileo being perational?
I have often said that I believe Galileo will happen; the only issue is what it willcompatibility and interoperability so worldwide users have access to the best possible space-based positioning, navigation and timing services.
Is GPS III a natural evolution process or is it a reaction to Galileo?
GPS III is a natural evolution based on the U.S. commitment to provide the best possible worldwide PNT services.
The primary motivation for GPS III is tobe and when it will become operational. We’ve seen EU/EC officials quoted recently stating a best case scenario of somewhere in the 2012 to 2014 timeframe to start initial worldwide operations.
Why did the EU propose Galileo when the U.S. already had GPS in place?
Many countries are recognizing spacebased PNT is a very important technology for both economic and security reasons, and they want to chart their own paths for using space-based PNT systems. I believe there is a view that if a nation wants to be a leader on the world stage that you must participate as a provider in space-based PNT services.
Looking to the future, the U.S. will continue to do provide civil access to GPS services, without direct user fees, as we watch other systems develop throughout the world. The U.S. will continue to do what we’ve done over the past 10 years, which is to maintain a very stable, predictable, cooperative national policy. We will continue to provide reliable, accurate, timely, and ever improving GPS and other space-based services.
Given the number of navigation systems, do think there is a need for a regulatory body?
I do not think that space-based PNT systems need to be “regulated” per se. To enhance compatibility and interoperability, there is value in promoting certain technical design standards, but this is already being accomplished through both multilateral and bilateral cooperation. They are already subject to international rules under the International Civil Aviation Organization, Internationalensure uninterrupted PNT services remain available, while incorporating improved technology. Whether or not other systems existed, the U.S. would still continue to sustain and improve GPS, and there would be successive generations of improved GPS space vehicles and services. However, competitiveness and interoperability with other systems is certainly an important consideration for future generations of satellites, including GPS III.
It is important to note the U.S. is already launching new satellites with improved signals and services, prior to GPS III.
Three GPS IIR-M satellites are on orbit, featuring a second civil signal for improved user performance. The GPS IIF series of satellites will begin launching in late 2008, and will have an additional third civil signal designed for safety-of-life navigation purposes.
The entire world has benefited by the free service that the U.S. has provided. When there is a doubt on the intention itself, do you think it shows lack of gratitude?
I believe the vast majority of users around the world trust the U.S. to continue providing a reliable, continuous GPS service. Otherwise, they would not be making such huge investments in critical infrastructures (telecommunications, transportation, power distribution, etc.) that depend on GPS. The voices of fear, uncertainty, and doubt that you hear from time to time come from very small factions to promote their own agendas.
The U.S. has made, and will continue to make, GPS technology publicly available, and will continue to advocate cooperation, compatibility, and interoperability with systems operated by other space-based PNT providers. If you want a realistic gauge of international user sentiment, just look at the global sales figures for GPS equipment – over $25 billion dollars per year with projections of doubledigit growth rates in the years to come.
The U.S. PNT policy is two years old. Have you done any assessments of its impact?
Policy assessment is one of the functions of the National Coordination Office. We have taken an in-depth look at the
The U.S. government is taking steps to ensure we continue to provide uninterrupted, accurate, reliable and dependable space-based services while continuing to evolve and improve GPS performance in the future. In short, the U.S. National Policy is working.
What do you think about China recently shooting down a satellite?
There is a lot of concern around the world about that type of activity for a variety of reasons. The entire space community is very concerned, because there is a tremendous amount of debris in orbit. Debris is dangerous for all satellites, regardless of type or function.