New "Block lll" GPS Satellite Prototype Begins Testing
December 14, 2011 10:48 AM
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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
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
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.
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It's all about time and satellite position.
12/15/2011 10:05:27 PM
Way oversimplified explanation: GPS works because the satellites detect where each other are and are also told where they are to a high degree of accuracy from known control points on the ground. A GPS satellite transmits basically two things: current position and current time.
A GPS receiver compares incoming signals and compares their relative position and relative arrival time. Knowing the basic speed of transmission through the air/space, the receiver can deduce distance from the satellite. Then it calculates position by intersecting the distance radii from all the satellite signals it is tracking.
Accuracy is increased by processing signals from more satellites and/or learning other things or paying attention to other information that the satellite may transmit, such as movement vectors of the satellite and air/space transmission issues detected during delays or multipath issues with ground point communications.
Originally civilian GPS was less accurate because the military required that some of the high resolution timing information transmitted by each satellite be encrypted. Once this encryption was removed, theoretically the civilian units could be as accurate.
RE: It's all about time and satellite position.
12/18/2011 12:12:02 AM
they put current position accurately errors in the signal so the accurately cant be high unless they remove them (but not good idea as could be used for missiles)
currant GPS devices seem to handle it very well just 3 points get 50-100 meters accurately from an norm fast lock, with more GPS Sat points get that down to 15 or 10 meters (a lot faster then the older GPS devices from 10 years ago) and with AGPS (mobile phones if enabled) most lock within 5 seconds out doors
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