GPS News, News Archives


Jun 2009 | Comments Off on NEWSBRIEFS – GPS


Loran is best. Keep it!

Says a recent study which was completed in March 2007 by the Independent Assessment Team (IAT). The report has been let out of detention, just in time to counter recent efforts by the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Coast Guard to throttle the program. The IAT “unanimously recommends that the US government complete the eLoran upgrade and commit to eLoran as the national backup to GPS for 20 years.” The IAT’s conclusion has long been informally known throughout the GPS industry, but the report’s release adds considerable weight, expertise, and specifics to a long, determined campaign to preserve the program. Release of this report now comes only after an extensive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) battle waged by industry representatives against the federal government. The report asserts that “eLoran is the only cost-effective backup for national needs; it is completely interoperable with and independent of GPS, with different propagation and failure mechanisms. … It is a seamless backup, and its use will deter threats to US national and economic security by disrupting (jamming) GPS reception.”

…Senate Committees support eLoran

Two leading Senate committees publicly back the eLoran system and question the US President’s latest budget proposal. The FY 2010 Concurrent Budget Resolution releases views from the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs backing the continued support for the Loran system, acknowledging the investment already made in infrastructure upgrades and recognizing the studies performed and multi-departmental conclusion that eLoran is the best backup to GPS. Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, wrote the committee recognized the priority in “maintaining LORAN-C while transitioning to eLORAN” as means to enhance the homeland security, marine safety and environmental protection missions of the Coast Guard. Senator Collins, the ranking member on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs wrote that the President’s budget overview proposal to terminate the LORAN-C system is inconsistent with the recent investments, recognized studies and mission of the US Coast Guard. The letter recognizes the $160 million investment already made toward upgrading the LORAN-C system to support the full deployment of eLoran pressarchive/CommitteePrint.pdf

…US proposal to terminate loran-C draws fire from UK

A last-minute change in US loran policy has raised serious concerns among international navigation and security organizations. In late February, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) removed loran-C funding from the President’s budget, provoking an immediate response from the UK. The key issue was the continuing need for loran-C and eLoran to provide a backup to GPS, in the event of satellite failures or signal disruption. The UK’s position was that until the OMB’s announcement, the US supported the view that loran provides a backup to GPS, with the Department of Homeland Security stating that loran “will mitigate any safety, security or economic effects of a GPS outage or disruption.” In January, a highlevel DOT panel of independent experts, chaired by Professor Brad Parkinson – the former USAF official in charge of satnav development, now dubbed “The father of GPS” – unanimously recommended that “the US government complete the eLoran upgrade and commit to eLoran as the national backup to GPS for 20 years.” Today, government and commercial communications, finance, utilities, ATC and many other vital services in the US and overseas depend on precise GPS timing, and loran-C and eLoran are the only long-range, unjammable backups that can provide comparable accuracy.

GPS’ India equivalent within 3 years

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), similar to the GPS of the US, will be operational in three years’ time, K. Radhakrishnan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre has said. The country will have a space-based augmentation of the GPS system Gagan (GPS-aided Geo-augmented Navigation, which ISRO has developed with the US defence major Raytheon), to start with. “However, we plan to have our own IRNSS in three years. Covering the Indian Ocean region, this will provide positional accuracy of about 10 metres and is implemented using seven satellites, three in the geostationary transfer orbits and four in non-geostationary orbits,” he said.

Japan’s QZSS-1 in 2010

The launch of the first satellite in Japan’s Quazi Zenith Satellite System, Jun Ten Cho, has been scheduled for 2010.The project is divided into two phases. The current plan calls for Phase 1 to include R&D, the launch of QZSS-1 and subsequent on-orbit demonstration. Phase 2 will include building another two satellites and the launch of an operational environment before the end of 2013. The satellites will offer GPS-like signals and transmit on the same frequency so normal GPS receivers will be able to receive them.

GPS at risk: Doomsday 2010

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued on May 7 an alarming report on the future of GPS, characterizing ongoing modernization efforts as shaky. The agency appears to single out the IIF program as the weak link between current stability and ensured future capability, calling into doubt “whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption.” It asserts the very real possibility that “in 2010, as old satellites begin to fail, the overall GPS constellation will fall below the number of satellites required to provide the level of GPS service that the US government commits to.” The report concludes that “it is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption. If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected.” “In addition,” the report summary continues, “military users will experience a delay in utilizing new GPS capabilities, including improved resistance to jamming of GPS signals, because of poor synchronization of the acquisition and development of the satellites with the ground control and user equipment. Finally, there are challenges in ensuring civilian requirements for GPS can be met and that GPS is compatible with other new, potentially competing global space-based positioning, navigation, and timing systems.” While the Department of Defence concurred with this recommendation, and while quite possibly it might effectuate the streamlined decisionmaking and corollary processes to remedy the highlighted deficiencies, it would run counter to the integral “dual-use” principle of GPS as dedicated to both civil and military users. Such a move could thus conceivably and adversely affect the interests of civil users.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)