Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coming or Going? GPS in Trouble

As Americans struggle metaphorically with where the country is heading comes news of an imminent loss of our literal sense of direction.

A GAO report on the $2 billion Air Force modernization of global position satellites warns that the system is at risk of failing as early as next year:

"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 shortcomings would affect all GPS users, the GAO says, not only the military that relies on them but the rest of us who can't find our around without the devices on car dashboards and electronic gizmos.

To make things worse, there is Galileo, a European rival satellite navigation system scheduled to start rolling out later next year as Russia, India and China expand their own efforts.

The Obama Administration has to get moving on this so we don't have to depend on foreigners to tell us whether we're coming or going.

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