Jan 2019 | No Comment

Dr Gladys West inducted into Air Force Pioneers Hall of Fame

An 87-year-old doctor whose programming of accurate earth models led to the current GPS system has been inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame. Dr. Gladys West was presented with the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers award for her decades of contributions to the Air Force’s space program.

West was one of only a few women who participated in computing for the U.S. Military in an era before electronic systems. She is also credited for programming calculations that ultimately became GPS.

The mathematician worked on accounting for variations in gravitational, tidal, and other forces that distort Earth’s shape in the 1970s and 1980s. She was also involved in astronomical studies that won awards and changed the way we explore space. West was among the so-called “Hidden Figures” part of the team who did computing for the U.S. military.

GPS Alliance asks FCC to reconsider denial of Galileo E6 signal

The Federal Communications Commission in the USA – after a multi-agency process that started in October 2013 – approved on November 15 of this year a request from the European Union that Galileo signals be allowed to be received in the United States. Though the Galileo signals were already being broadcast in the U.S., and there was no enforcement effectively denying their informal use, the official approval enabled nonfederal agencies to use Galileo signals to meet official needs. For example, it will now be possible to use the two approved Galileo signals to more accurately locate cell phone callers who are dialing 911 for help in an emergency.

But it was just two signals that were given the thumbs up by regulators. The original request was for approval of the Galileo E1, E5 and E6 signals. The FCC approved receipt of E1 and E5, which overlap with U.S. GPS signals. That approval also means that those signals will be protected from future interference when requests to use spectrum in other ways come before the commission.

The FCC declined to approve the E6 signal, which falls in the 1260-1300 MHz band. The commission determined that allowing receipt in the U.S. might create interference issues and limit options for expanding use of the neighboring 1300-1350 MHz band.

On December 17 the GPS Innovation Alliance (GPSIA) asked the FCC to reconsider its E6 decision. The Alliance also noted that U.S. policy statements and international agreements indicated broad support for approval of GNSS signals including those from Galileo. In particular the agreement between the U.S. and EU that ensured GPS and Galileo compatibility, stated that the U.S. would not restrict “use of or access to” Galileo signals in the U.S.

SpaceX launches U.S. military navigation satellite

Fifth time’s the charm. SpaceX successfully launched a U.S. military navigation satellite after being scrubbed for the fourth time. Heather Wilson, secretary of the Air Force, says this next-generation GPS satellite is three times more accurate than previous versions and eight times better at anti-jamming. It’s the first in a series and nicknamed Vespucci after the 15th-century Italian explorer who calculated Earth’s circumference to within 50 miles (80 kilometers). It was SpaceX’s 21st and final launch of the year, a company record.

China ramps up global coverage for Beidou satellite navigation system

Beidou, China’s home-developed satellite navigation system has launched its global service ahead of schedule.

Ran Chengqi, director general of the China Satellite Navigation Officeannouncing completion of the global coverage of the third-generation positioning system, ahead of the previous rollout target of 2020.

China has already shipped more than 70 million Beidou systems, which include microchips and modules, domestically and to over 90 countries, and the system is being well-received in Russia, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia and Kuwait, according to Ran.

Completion of the navigation system comes after China launched 19 positioning satellites this year, seen as enough to provide basic coverage. Twelve more will be launched over the coming two years to improve the precision of the system.

NTSC realizes high-precision test evaluation of GNSS satellite navigation signals

Recently, the signal quality assessment team from the National Time Service Center (NTSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences established Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) spatial signal quality assessment system based on 40m antenna in Luonan County, Shaanxi Province.

It realizes high-precision test evaluation of GNSS satellite navigation signals by using the international initiative special evaluation system, which covers the spatial signals of the new navigation signal system of major satellite navigation systems such as BDS and GPS.

The system uses the satellite commonview and two-way time transfer technology of NSTC to achieve synchronization between system time and UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).

And for the first time in the world, it adopts the optical fiber transmission network standard absolute delay method and uses high-frequency standard instruments and the dedicated navigation signal test equipment to realize the closedloop calibration of the RF signal.

It has broken through the technical problems of broadband RF signal group delay and power precision calibration and realized innovative application of multi-disciplinary technology in the navigation field.

Russian GLONASS station opens in Armenia

The Russian GLONASS station will improve the accuracy of navigation systems and have an impact on many areas, from air navigation to agriculture, Armenian Deputy Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies Armen Arzumanyan said.

The ground station will operate on the territory of the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory and now includes three towers for communication with satellites, as well as a server center for processing the received data.

A total of 24 satellites are working with GLONASS, while the accuracy of determining the location is from 3 to 7 meters.

India to host GLONASS ground station for Russia

The Indian Space Research Organisation is getting ready to host a ground station for Russia’s GLONASS. The ground station will help the Russian navigation system become more efficient.

The ground station will be built in Bengaluru, a city that is already home to the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (Istrac). Istrac will host the Russian ground station as well.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the two nations in October 2016. In return, Roscosmos will host ground-measurement gathering stations in Russia for India’s NavIC, which will boost the operations of the IRNSS satellites.

Russia plans to place positioning satellites around the Moon

In a draft document describing Russia’s program for lunar exploration, plans include deployment of navigational and communications satellite groupings in lunar orbit.

According to the document, the tasks described for 2025-2030 include “the delivery to the Moon of a series of spacecraft for orbital research and the establishment of a global communications and positioning system.”

The concept envisions the deployment of a lunar satellite navigation constellation between 2036 and 2040. A Roscomos press release Nov. 28 says a moon base is the agency’s top priority. “The interest of mankind to the moon is associated primarily with the fact that unique regions with favorable conditions for the construction of lunar bases were discovered on the satellite. The implementation of the lunar program will be held in several stages until 2040.”

Russia will reportedly implement its new strategy in three phases: the launch of an orbital station, a manned mission to the surface, and the eventual construction of a permanent base.

Venezuela to use Russia’s GLONASS satellite navigation system

Venezuela will use Russia’s satellite navigation system GLONASS, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday.

“The GLONASS satellite system developed in Russia goes to Venezuela,” he said in an recently. “It will help improve our country’s telecommunications possibilities,” he said, adding that this is an “utterly new” cooperation area.

Roscosmos in talks on deploying GLONASS stations in US

Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos is conducting talks on placing ground stations of the system of differential correction and monitoring of the satellite navigation system GLONASS in the United States.

The stations are needed to ensure proper operation of the entire GLONASS system – satellites in orbit and the ground component – to ensure the GLONASS satellites send the correct signal.

UK ends Galileo talks, says it will explore a homegrown alternative

The United Kingdom has walked away from negotiations over its post- Brexit involvement in the Galileo. Instead of using Galileo‘s militarygrade signal, Prime Minister Theresa May announced Nov. 30 that the U.K. will explore building its own GNSS.

That means that after Brexit, British companies would not be able to bid for contracts involved in developing and maintaining PRS, and the U.K. would have to work out a deal with the EU even to become a passive user of the military-grade signal, unless another arrangement was reached.

May blamed the end of the negotiations on the European Commission‘s “decision to bar the UK from being fully involved in developing all aspects of Galileo.”

Earlier this year U.K. space officials had floated the idea that they could partner with another country, such as Australia, to build a new GNSS. In August, the British government announced it would spend92 million pounds ($117 million) from a “Brexit readiness fund” to study the prospects for building an independent alternative.

First detection of rain over the ocean by navigation satellites

A new approach by a team around Milad Asgarimehr, who works in the GFZ section for Space Geodetic Techniques and at the Technical University of Berlin, together with researchers from the Earth System Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the USA (NOAA) and the University of Potsdam, uses information contained in radar signals from GNSS satellites (Global Navigation Satellite System) to detect rain over the sea. The technology is called GNSS Reflectometry. It is an innovative satellite remote sensing method with a broad spectrum of geophysical applications.

According to the researchers, the new approach could help to monitor atmospheric precipitation better than before. Asgarimehr: “Our research can serve as a starting point for the development of an additional rain indicator. We can provide precipitation information using GNSS Reflectometry with unprecedented temporal resolution and spatial coverage.”

“GNSS are ‘all-weather navigation systems,’” explains Asgarimehr. “A longheld basic assumption was therefore that their signals are composed in such a way that they are not noticeably attenuated by clouds or typical precipitation in the atmosphere and therefore cannot detect precipitation.” The new study therefore uses a different effect to detect rain over the sea: The roughness of the sea surface.

Space technology allows precise navigation without GNSS

The German Aerospace research center DLR developed an optical navigation and inspection system for use in environments where position determination is not possible via a satellite navigation system such as GPS or Galileo. The Integrated Positioning System (IPS) can accurately determine one’s own position without additional “prior knowledge” of the environment and without external reference points. Originally developed for missions in outer space, the scientists also see possible applications in tunnels, mines or industrial facilities, for example.

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