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U.S. Air Force Declares New GPS Satellite Operational

 

12/19/2005 Sunnyvale, CA -- A joint U.S. Air Force/Lockheed Martin team announced that the first modernized Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite has been declared fully operational for GPS users around the globe following extensive on-orbit testing of the spacecraft's new military and civilian signals.

Launched on Sept. 25 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. the GPS IIR-14 satellite features a modernized antenna panel that provides increased signal power to receivers on the ground, two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military, and a second civil signal that will provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency. (I think this is the new L5 freq at 1176 MHz.... L1 is at 1575 of course ---cz)

 

"With this launch, we're truly launching a new era of GPS services for our military and civil users around the globe," according to Col Allan Ballenger, System Program Director for the Navstar GPS program at Los Angeles Air Force Base. "This modernized satellite will broadcast the first new GPS signals since the GPS constellation became fully operational over a decade ago."

 

The satellite was declared operational on Dec. 16 by Air Force Space Command's 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2 SOPS) at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., which manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.

 

"As 2 SOPS celebrates its 20th year of operating the GPS constellation, it's fitting that we embark upon the next generation of GPS satellites," said Lt. Col. Steve Hamilton, 2 SOPS commander. "Our operations team is thrilled to be part of this monumental achievement."

 

The GPS IIR team is now gearing up for the launch of the second modernized IIR satellite scheduled for liftoff in early 2006 from Cape Canaveral. Lockheed Martin is under contract to modernize eight IIR satellites for its customer, the Navstar GPS Joint Program Office, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.

 

"The entire GPS team should be very proud of this significant milestone in the GPS program," said Leonard F. Kwiatkowski, vice president and general manager of Military Space Programs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.

 

"We are extremely pleased with the on-orbit performance of the first modernized satellite and look forward to providing a major improvement in navigation capability for both military and civilian users of the worldwide system," added Kwiatkowski.

 

The modernized navigation payloads are being built by ITT in Clifton, N.J. The satellite upgrades along with final assembly, integration and test is being performed at Lockheed Martin facilities in Valley Forge, Pa.

 

"We are proud to be a part of the team modernizing this global asset," said Dick Arra, vice president and director, navigation, ITT Space Systems Division. "Built on 25 years of GPS payload development, the IIR payloads are designed to meet the rigors of space and operate in a radiation contaminated environment while providing precise three dimensional position, time and velocity information on a 24-hour worldwide basis."

 

The Global Positioning System enables properly equipped users to determine precise time and velocity and worldwide latitude, longitude and altitude to within a few meters.

 

SOURCE: Lockheed Martin

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Does this mean that existing GPSr's will eventually experience improved accuracy? How soon might we see that, and to what degree, I wonder?

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So I can expect my etrex yellow to be accurate to within a nanometer any day now, right? :laughing:

All kidding aside, what is to become of Geocaching when accuracy tolerances do actually get down to nanometers? (what is a nanometer anyway?)

Will we have nothing but puzzle caches, multiple offsets, waypoint projections galore? The days of traditional caches may be numbered. I can just visualize a find log of the future, say 2008, saying that the cache coords are way off.

 

"We had to search for an additional 2 minutes to finally find the cache under the rock 60 nanometers away from the posted coords. We recommend this cache be temporarily disabled until the owner can make a maintenance visit and correct the listed coordinates. This delay meant that we were only able to bag 33 of our planned 40 caches this afternoon."

 

Do we (geocachers) really need it?

 

Olar

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You raise a great point. A nanometer being a billionth of a meter, such accuracy would basically let you pinpoint a cache in two seconds.

 

As a complete novice with only one find to my name, it seems to me that the built-in inaccuracy of today's GPSr's is part of what makes geocaching fun. If I could simply find a cache by walking to its exact precise coordinates, then you might as well have just told me "meet me at my house and I'll hand you a cache." :laughing:

 

Wouldn't it be ironic if "Selective Availability" were to be reinstituted just to make geocaching less accurate in the future?? :laughing:

 

Dave

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Perhaps it already is...at least that was my experience today. Could not locate even 1 satellite in an hour of trying, let alone 4 for a lock! :laughing:

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Perhaps it already is...at least that was my experience today. Could not locate even 1 satellite in an hour of trying, let alone 4 for a lock! :laughing:

I was having the same experience this weekend. I was putting out caches and had a terrible time getting any reading. I have never seen such poor reception before. I was starting to wonder if they turned off the satellites on Sundays to save power or something. :laughing:

 

Cool to hear about the new satellites though.

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You raise a great point. A nanometer being a billionth of a meter, such accuracy would basically let you pinpoint a cache in two seconds.

 

Then you get the cachers like me that screw up the puzzle cache every time I place one. I don't think we're going to have to worry about nanometer precision anytime soon, and remember -- most caches are hidden with averaged readings.

 

I can tell when I'm chasing a cache hidden by a Garmin user for example, because my wife finds it with the eTrex really quick and there's a group of us Magellan users over checking out a tree 40M away. The reverse is also true when we're looking for a Magellan user's cache. My wife is 40M away with the eTrex and I'm right on top of it.

 

Then there are those caches that the owner waypoints and runs off. No averaging, and they didn't realize the GPS has 127M accuracy at the moment they hit the mark button....

 

What I'm saying is that no amount of accuracy is going to help you find a geocache placed with a less accurate reading. It'll be nice though for accurate tracklogs....

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Extreme accuracy will definitely be a problem. Geocaching is not like trying to find an old movie at the video store... there is supposed to be some amount of searching for the fun of it.

 

I hope it doesn't get too easy.

 

:lol: The Blue Quasar

Edited by The Blue Quasar

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I agree... the fun is in the search (and also to some extent there is a certain frustrated sick pleasure in correcting Northernpenguin's math, but that's another story :lol: )

 

There are lots and lots of "myths" regarding GPS, and centimeter accuracies are definitely possible even in the commercial world. One of my Customers (Trimble Nav. in California) gets amazing accuracies with their system, but we are not talking about cheapie handhelds like we all use.

 

Here is a really fun on-line dump on GPS:

 

GPS Tutorial

 

worth the visit.

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Perhaps it already is...at least that was my experience today. Could not locate even 1 satellite in an hour of trying, let alone 4 for a lock! 

 

I was having the same experience this weekend. I was putting out caches and had a terrible time getting any reading. I have never seen such poor reception before. I was starting to wonder if they turned off the satellites on Sundays to save power or something.

 

My problem continues - - moving to the GPS forum...

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