GPS Backup Plans Still Incomplete - InformationWeek

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Government // Leadership

GPS Backup Plans Still Incomplete

Agencies tasked with developing backup plans for federally run GPS systems are making insufficient progress.
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GPS Block II/IIA satellite.(Source: GPS.gov)
GPS Block II/IIA satellite.
(Source: GPS.gov)

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Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 5:06:56 PM
Moonshot
In the 60s, the government set a goal of going to the moon within a decade and did it.  Now the government can't set up Healthcare.gov, much less update the GPS system.  I've been watching technology evolve for four decades and have seen amazing things happen, but I'm starting to think that every step forward is getting so expensive and difficult that we may be nearing the summit of Mount Technology. 

Are we entering an era of diminishing returns?
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 12:43:16 PM
Public/private
Given the billions in value that companies like Google get from GPS, it seems like the US should ask the private sector to kick in some expertise and funding. If ever there was a prime opportunity for some public/private collaboration, this seems like it.
WKash
IW Pick
100%
0%
WKash,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 12:31:17 PM
GPS Disruptions
As of 2013, the United States NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian GLONASS are the only fully operational Global Navigation Satellite Systems that provide autonomous geo-spatial positioning with global coverage. Europe is building its Galileo GNSS, but has launched only a few of what will eventually be 30 satellites (27 operational + 3 active spares). So the good news is, the world is adding capacity and back up potential.

The problem is, the Earth is subject to extreme solar events which can disrupt GNSS signals, and the satellites themselves. One estimate puts the probability of these occurences at 1-in-100 per year. Then there's the growing risk from jamming.  The cost of jamming equipment is low which can affect relative large areas on earth.  So while capacity may be growing, so are the risks of disruption.
David F. Carr
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50%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 11:35:57 AM
What would it take?
What would it take to fulfill this requirement? A backup for every satellite in the sky? Is it the failure of individual satellites the biggest concern or some other aspect of the overall system architecture?
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