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Oct 2020 | No Comment

GPS III successfully introduced into EGNOS services

Introduction of the first GPS III satellites into EGNOS services was successfully achieved on 27 July 2020, following the initiation by GPS of a transition from its “GPS Block II” satellites to its new generation “GPS Block III” satellites.

The GPS operational constellation started in 2020 to migrate from GPS II satellites to the new generation GPS III satellites. Through cooperation exchanges with the US, the European Commission and the European GNSS Agency (GSA) obtained assurance on the “backward compatibility” of the GPS III satellites with regard to GPS II, and in particular concerning their failure characteristics.

Based on this, the GSA developed a step-wise approach to accelerate the introduction of GPS-III into the EGNOS system, overwriting the initial plan for GPS III system qualification within EGNOS 242B System release development.

As a first step, the GSA implemented a fast-track process to be as quick as possible while staying safe and respectful of the roles and obligations of the Service Provider and of the Product manufacturer.

For this purpose, the GSA has organized and performed, with the support of the European Satellite Services Provider (ESSP), Thales Alenia Space France (TAS-F) and the European Space Agency (ESA), a careful safety assessment, based on design analyses and a dedicated adhoc measurement campaign. This has allowed the GSA to substantiate and approve the introduction of the first two GPS-III (PRN-4 and PRN-18) into the EGNOS Design Safety Case.

Based on this, ESSP submitted the proposed change, along with its safety assessment, to the EASA change oversight process, resulting in an authorisation from EASA delivered on 23 July 2020. Following this, ESSP upgraded the EGNOS operational baseline and the first two GPS III satellites were successfully introduced into the EGNOS Signal in Space on 27 July 2020.

The improvements brought to the EGNOS SoL service performance were already noticeable by the EGNOS users since that day.

The GSA is currently planning to extend its fast-track process in order to introduce these additional GPS III satellites into operations, until the delivery and entry into service of the next major System release (ESR 242A) in 2021 which will be also updated to GPS III. www.gsa.europa.eu

GPS M-Code Installs Complete at Operational Sites

The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center took a major step towards Operational Acceptance of the long awaited GPS Military-Code (M-Code) with the completion of the major M-Code Early Use (MCEU) hardware and software upgrade to the GPS Operational Control System (OCS) on July 27.

The encrypted M-Code signal enhances anti-jamming and anti-spoofing capabilities for the warfighter. M-Code signals are currently available on all 22 GPS Block IIR-M, IIF and III space vehicles currently on orbit. The installs were completed at the Master Control Station at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado and Alternate Master Control Stations at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. us.af.mil

New WAAS satellite launched

5 Flight VA253 was launched from the Guiana Space Centre, Kourou, at 2204 UTC on 15 August. The heaviest ever Ariane launcher carried 3 satellites, which included WAAS, to cover North America.

The WAAS satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) is compatible with the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), Indian GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) and the Japanese Multifunctional Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS). All use a network of groundbased reference stations to determine real-time GPS errors, which are sent to master stations which relay correction messages via the SBAS satellites. The corrections are transmitted to receivers via GPS frequency and format. The FAA WAAS accuracy requirements (95%) for an aircraft instrument runway approach down to 200 ft – Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance (LPV-200) – is 16m horizontal and 4 m vertical; actual performance has been 0.7m horizontal and 1.2m vertical. www.faa.gov

GPS III SV03 receives operational acceptance

The United States Space Force (USSF) and the Space and the Missile Systems Center achieved another major GPS milestone on July 27 when the GPS III Space Vehicle (SV) 03 received USSF’s Operational Acceptance approval.

The GPS III satellites are the newest generation built by Lockheed Martin that provide precise positioning, navigation and timing information with three times better accuracy, and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability than previous generations of GPS satellites. This marks the third GPS III satellite to receive operational acceptance in less than a year.

SV03 was launched on June 30 and was the second National Security Space Launch (NSSL) mission launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This was the first NSSL mission where a Launch Service Provider recovered a booster, with SpaceX successfully recovering the first stage and fairings as part of the launch. The GPS III SV03 mission was dedicated to Colonel Thomas G. Falzarano, 21st Space Wing commander, who passed away in May. us.af.mil

Worldwide navigation declared for BeiDou

Chinese President, Xi Jinping, officially commissioned the system on 31 July at a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The 55th and final satellite in the BeiDou constellation, launched on 23 June into geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO) at ~22,000 miles (~36,000 km), had completed all tests and been declared operational.

Hence the 3rd-generation BeiDou system (BDS-3), which began providing navigation services in 2018, has become operational worldwide. The final constellation comprises 27 medium earth orbit (MEO), 5 GEO and 3 inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO) satellites.

This should provide global navigation services similar to GPS, GLONASS and Galileo. It will use, amongst other transmissions, a frequency of 1575.42 MHz – the same as GPS L1 and Galileo E1 civil signals – and multiplexed binary offset carrier (MBOC) modulation, similar to the future GPS L1C and Galileo’s E1. Satellite-based augmentation (SBAS) and SAR facilities are included. https://apnews.com

Galileo next-gen satellites on the horizon

Following the European Commission’s decision to accelerate development of Galileo Next Generation, ESA has asked European satellite manufacturers to submit bids for the first batch of the Galileo Second Generation (G2) satellites. The new spacecraft are expected to be launched in about four years. The next-generation satellites will provide all the services and capabilities of the current first generation, together with a substantial number of improvements as well as new services and capabilities.

ESA is implementing a dual-sourcing approach, and two parallel contracts are expected to be signed around the end of 2020 amongst the current three bidders. Under the plan, each of the two selectees will build two satellites for development purposes, with options for up to 12 satellites in total.

The first satellites of the new constellation are foreseen for launch before the end of 2024, together with updated ground systems to support the new satellites.

These second generation satellites will gradually take over from the current first generation satellites in the provision of Galileo services, and will therefore at a future date constitute a complete constellation plus the necessary in-orbit spares.

ESA serves as the design, development and procurement agent for Galileo satellites on behalf of the European Commission, which funds the system overall. www.esa.int

New plan to enable GPS access in Sydney tunnels

Plans to boost GPS signals in Sydney’s road tunnels are taking shape, which could help motorists, freight and emergency services navigate tunnels more accurately, quickly and safely.

Transport for NSW Deputy Secretary for Greater Sydney, Elizabeth Mildwater, said ‘repeaters’ are banned in tunnels but the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is considering changing the law to let the technology be used.

“The freight industry – one of the primary users of tunnels – also uses GPS to actively provide information on tracking and on-board communication. With the delivery of major tunnel projects across Sydney like WestConnex, NorthConnex, M6 Stage 1, Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link, it’s important we act as soon as possible.”

Transport for NSW has made a submission to the Federal regulator to install and trial re-transmission points inside tunnels to simulate satellite signals.

“Standard modern vehicles are equipped with more than 50 sensors, generating data referenced in time and space to a specific location,” Ms Mildwater said. GPS signals are a type of radionavigation-satellite service (RNSS). Re-transmission of RNSS signals are banned in Australia under the Radiocommunications Act 1992, due to the risk of interfering with other GPS signals. www.transport.nsw.gov.au

Navigation satellite next year by the UAE

The UAE has announced plans to develop and launch a navigation satellite in 2021, followed by the launch of a more advanced version the year after.

Funded by the UAE Space Agency, the project will be the first one to be carried out at the new Satellite Assembly, Integration and Testing Centre in Al Ain (AIT Satellite Centre).

The facility, which was launched in partnership with Airbus and Tawazun Economic Council, is located at the UAE University’s National Space and Science Technology Centre (NSSTC) and aims to increase the nation’s satellite development capabilities. The satellites are not meant to replace the existing Global Navigation Satellite Systems, which offers global coverage through four different versions operated by Europe, the United States, Russia and China, as well two regional ones owned by Japan and India. www.thenational.ae

FCC grants E9-1-1 Galileo request to AT&T

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a request on August 19, 2020 for authorization from AT&T Services to use Galileo for emergency location purposes. It plans to use Galileo in conjunction with GPS to improve the accuracy of its E9-1-1 location services on mobile devices, and facilitate faster response from emergency services when wireless callers dial 9-1-1. The request was approved by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. https://docs.fcc.gov

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