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  (Source: wikimedia.org)
The prototype arrived at Lockheed Martin's testing facility on Monday

A Lockheed Martin-built prototype for the upcoming Global Positioning System (GPS) upgrade was recently completed and shipped to a facility in Colorado to begin testing.

The U.S. Air Force Space Command, which supervises the U.S.' GPS satellites from the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, is looking to launch a $5.5 billion update to the GPS. The upgrade is intended to make both military and civilian receivers more powerful and accurate, and to also allow civilian receivers to use signals from not only the U.S. satellite navigation systems, but European and Russian systems too. 

The new GPS satellites are called Block lll, and the Pentagon plans to buy about 32 of them to launch into space at a cost of $5.5 billion. The U.S. government looked to Lockheed Martin to build and test the prototype in a $1.5 billion Air Force contract. The company will also build the first two satellites for space launch and potentially 10 more.

The prototype made its way to Lockheed Martin's $80 million test facility in Colorado on Monday, where final assembly work and testing will take place.

Once completed, the Block lll satellites are expected to allow civilian and military users to identify their position within 3 feet as opposed to 10 feet with current GPS technology. The Block lll satellites will also make it more difficult for enemies to interfere with signals.

Such GPS systems are advantageous for car use or smartphone use to weapons use.

The prototype will never be launched into space, but the first Block lll model after the prototype will be sent to space in 2014 after undergoing testing next year.

Sources: Digital Trends, Associated Press



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RE: Arent Military and Civilian different?
By NellyFromMA on 12/14/2011 3:14:29 PM , Rating: 2
Not to say you're lying, but can you cite a reference for this? I find it extremely hard to believe that the GPS system we have wideley distributed is the same precision-level as current-gen mil-spec.


RE: Arent Military and Civilian different?
By lennylim on 12/14/2011 3:57:24 PM , Rating: 2
I don't have access to military grade GPS receivers, and a friend who worked on them in the past can't talk about it. There are many technical differences (see above), but I don't believe increased accuracy is one of them. After all, you don't really need that much precision to guide a cruise missile to a target - the last stage depends a lot on visual guidance or laser illumination, since the coordinates you start out with may not be entirely accurate *cough* Chinese embassy *cough*.

Civilian units also calculates position about once per second at most, partly due to processing power, and partly due to saving battery power. I assume if you have more processing power and a beefy battery, you can get a more accurate reading of where you are at that moment (instead of where you were a fraction of a second ago). I don't know if military units do that, but I assume at least some of them do.

Check out some civilian surveyor GPS systems if you're interested in seeing how accurate they can be.

http://www.trimble.com/trimbler7gnss.shtml

Not terribly useful for daily navigation or wartime use.


By m51 on 12/14/2011 4:13:26 PM , Rating: 2
I know you can get commercial grade gps receivers that update 20 times a second at least.


RE: Arent Military and Civilian different?
By lightfoot on 12/14/2011 4:47:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...since the coordinates you start out with may not be entirely accurate *cough* Chinese embassy *cough*.

I don't know... It seems like our coordinates for the Chinese embassy were pretty spot on.

Target identification might be a little off, but that's not a GPS issue.

Without a doubt, we hit what we were aiming at.


By Solandri on 12/15/2011 2:57:46 AM , Rating: 2
If the stories about the Chinese buying the remains of the F-117 which got shot down and storing it in the embassy prior to shipping to China are true, then the target identification would appear to have been spot on as well.


By m51 on 12/14/2011 4:14:09 PM , Rating: 2
The information is widely available. Start with http://www.wikipedia.org/


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