The development drive

The development of GPS came out of necessity. As technology has advanced, GPS has also advanced to what we know it today. We could not have a Global Position System without the advancement of rockets and satellites. Ironically, we may owe much of this to the Soviet Union with the launch of the first satellite and the Cold War coupled with the downing of the civilian aircraft KAL 007 in 1983 when it went astray in Soviet Union airspace. This pushed the United States to accelerate the pace of developing the Global Positioning System and, for the first time, it is open to civilian use. Now, GPS can be found in almost every facet of our lives, from car navigation to outdoor uses, at workplaces, or in the mountains.

The need

During WWII, the military realized they needed to find a better way to navigate than through stars and weak or fading radio signals from radio towers. Many times, when pilots flew missions, they used radio signals to return to their home bases when they returned home. This was fine if the pilot or navigator were close to their planned return routes, but if they were out of their navigation to begin with, they would have a hard time picking up the local radio signal. They had to be within a certain distance that was determined by the strength or power of the signal. In the early 1940s, the LORAN system was under development for military use and was used both on land and at sea.

The first big breakthrough

When Sputnik was launched in 1957, a group of American scientists were monitoring its radio transmissions. They soon realized that the Sputnik signal was highest on approach to the satellite and lowest when the satellite had passed and was moving away from them, due to the Doppler effect. They theorized that if they knew their fixed position on earth, they could find out the exact position of the satellite by measuring the Doppler distortion or by calculating where the satellite was in its orbit from its Earth position.

The US Navy was the first to successfully test a satellite navigation system in 1960, it was known as Transit. This system was based on a constellation of five satellites orbiting the Earth. The downside to this system was that you could only get a navigation solution once an hour. For GPS to ever work, they needed to have accurate and reliable clocks in space. The US Navy once again took a step forward with the launch of the Timation satellite in 1967, which accomplished this.

The first terrestrial radio navigation system in the world became operational in the 1970s. It was known as the Omega navigation system, but it was based on a single phase comparison.


In early 1978, another experimental line of GPS satellites known as the Block-I was launched, with ten more to be launched in 1985. Modern Block-II satellites were beginning to be launched in early 1989 to begin replacing and improving the Block. -II. -I system is already in place. In December 1993, operational capacity was finally achieved, and by January 1994 there was a full constellation of 24 satellites. The oldest operational satellite in the system was launched in early 1989, and the newest satellite was launched in September 2006.

After the Soviet downing of the Korean KAL 007 aircraft in 1983, President Ronald Regan announced that civilians would have access to use the GPS navigation system once it was completed. During the administration of President Bill Clinton, the government realized the importance of the GPS system for both civilian and military users. Clinton then created the Interagency GPS Executive Board to administer and oversee the Global Positioning System. At this point, GPS really became a dual-use system for both civilian and military use. In 1998, then-Vice President Al Gore announced future plans for an upgrade to the GPS system to include two new signals for civilian use, point-of-use and aviation safety, and to improve the reliability and accuracy of the system. In 2004, with an updated national policy, President George W. Bush announced that the Interagency Executive Board of GPS would be replaced by the National Executive Committee on Space-based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing because of the importance of the GPS system to us in our everyday life. .

With the rapid advancement of technology in today’s world, there will be many changes in the GPS industry. We will find it increasingly intertwined with our lives as more uses are developed for it.

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