The GPS project was launched in the United States in 1973 to overcome the limitations of previous navigation systems, integrating ideas from several predecessors, including classified engineering design studies from the 1960s. The U.S. Department of Defense developed the system, which originally used 24 satellites. It was initially developed for use by the United States military and became fully operational in 1995. Civilian use was allowed from the 1980s. Roger L. Easton of the Naval Research Laboratory, Ivan A. Getting of The Aerospace Corporation, and Bradford Parkinson of the Applied Physics Laboratory are credited with inventing it. The design of GPS is based partly on similar ground-based radio-navigation systems, such as LORAN and the Decca Navigator, developed in the early 1940s.
When the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite in 1957, two American physicists, William Guier and George Weiffenbach, at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory decided to monitor its radio transmissions.[14] Within hours they realized that, because of the Doppler effect, they could pinpoint where the satellite was along its orbit. The Director of the APL gave them access to their UNIVAC to do the heavy calculations required. Early the next year, Frank McClure, the deputy director of the APL, asked Guier and Weiffenbach to investigate the inverse problem — pinpointing the user’s location, given that of the satellite. (At the time, the Navy was developing the submarine-launched Polaris missile, which required them to know the submarine’s location.)

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Global Positioning System

The Global Positioning System (GPS), originally Navstar GPS, is a satellite-based radionavigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force. It is a global navigation satellite system that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. Obstacles such as mountains and buildings block the relatively weak GPS signals.

The GPS does not require the user to transmit any data, and it operates independently of any telephonic or internet reception, though these technologies can enhance the usefulness of the GPS positioning information. The GPS provides critical positioning capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. The United States government created the system, maintains it, and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.

The GPS project was launched by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1973 for use by the United States military and became fully operational in 1995. It was allowed for civilian use in the 1980s. Advances in technology and new demands on the existing system have now led to efforts to modernize the GPS and implement the next generation of GPS Block IIIA satellites and Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX).

Announcements from Vice President Al Gore and the White House in 1998 initiated these changes. In 2000, the U.S. Congress authorized the modernization effort, GPS III. During the 1990s, GPS quality was degraded by the United States government in a program called “Selective Availability”; this was discontinued in May 2000 by a law signed by President Bill Clinton. New GPS receiver devices using the L5 frequency to begin release in 2018 are expected to have a much higher accuracy and pinpoint a device to within 30 centimeters or just under one foot.

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