I bought a GPS not so long ago. So I wasn't happy to read that the GAO is fretting GPS may stop working next year,

U.S. GAO – Global Positioning System: Significant Challenges in Sustaining and Upgrading Widely Used Capabilities: 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. (1) In recent years, the Air Force has struggled to successfully build GPS satellites within cost and schedule goals; it encountered significant technical problems that still threaten its delivery schedule; and it struggled with a different contractor. As a result, the current IIF satellite program has overrun its original cost estimate by about $870 million and the launch of its first satellite has been delayed to November 2009—almost 3 years late. (2) Further, while the Air Force is structuring the new GPS IIIA program to prevent mistakes made on the IIF program, the Air Force is aiming to deploy the next generation of GPS satellites 3 years faster than the IIF satellites. GAO's analysis found that this schedule is optimistic, given the program's late start, past trends in space acquisitions, and challenges facing the new contractor. Of particular concern is leadership for GPS acquisition, as GAO and other studies have found the lack of a single point of authority for space programs and frequent turnover in program managers have hampered requirements setting, funding stability, and resource allocation. (3) If the Air Force does not meet its schedule goals for development of GPS IIIA satellites, there will be an increased likelihood 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 U.S. government commits to. Such a gap in capability could have wide-ranging impacts on all GPS users, though there are measures the Air Force and others can take to plan for and minimize these impacts.

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7 Responses to Figures

  1. Joe1 says:

    Are the Europeans going to build a competing system? If so, all that the US has to do is keep the Western hemisphere system operating. Don’t worry about providing GPS services to the world.

  2. joe says:

    … all that the US has to do is keep the Western hemisphere system operating

    ISTM that you must be trolling. Why you’re trolling, I don’t know. But it seems you must be. For some inscutable purpose.

    It’s not so much that I’d expect the average person to have any idea how GPS works, or know anything about the orbits of the GPS satellite contellation. But you obviously have a computer. And you have internet access. And Wikipedia is well-known.

    Orbiting at an altitude of approximately 20,200 kilometers about 10 satellites are visible within line of sight (12,900 miles or 10,900 nautical miles; orbital radius of 26,600 km (16,500 mi or 14,400 NM)), each SV makes two complete orbits each sidereal day.

    (Emphasis added.)

    All-in-all, I’m concluding that you’re most probably trolling. In order to make some indecipherable point.

    Nevertheless, education is a public good. So I’m responding to your troll.

    At least one of us must be an idiot.

  3. John Flood says:

    Now’s the time to remember all those map reading skills you leared in the boy scouts…”Houston, we are at map reference….”

  4. eric says:

    I still have my Boy Scout orienteering compass. And I actually still know how to use it. Nice to know this arcane skill may once again come in handy.

  5. Patrick (G) says:

    Robert X. Cringely has an alternate take on this issue…

    My own observation of GPS is that [relying on] it makes you stupid.

  6. Just me says:

    Didn’t the president just propose to mothball a military radar program citing to the fact that it was no longer necessary as GPS was a suitable replacement? LOL I wonder how long it will take republicans (or Jon Stewart) to latch onto that one.

  7. joe1 says:

    Well, joe, wikipedia as a source at 4:12 a.m. Speaks for itself.

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