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Print 45 comment(s) - last by howtochooseaus.. on Nov 5 at 12:35 PM

Russia is working diligently to patch its GLOSNASS system, with launches from Kazakhstan. Very nice!

Russia's GLONASS system just got a boost with the launch of three new satellites aboard a Proton-K booster rocket, last Friday.  The satellites successfully reached low-earth orbit eight minutes after launch.

GLONASS, for the unfamiliar, is Russia's equivalent of the Global Positioning System  (GPS) commonly used in the U.S.  In English the words that make up the acronym roughly are translated to "Global Navigation Satellite System."

The European Union anticipates the success of a separate system, called the Galileo Network. However as reported by DailyTech, the system has yet to fully be implemented.

The technology developed during the Cold War went into operation in 1982, was completed in 1985, but fell into disrepair, following the collapse of Russia's communist regime.

Still the Russian government has been making legitimate attempts to restore the aging system, as reported on earlier this year at DailyTech.  The constellation initiated its first public broadcast of May this year.

The Indian government pledged support for the GLONASS system in 2004, but the country have yet to launch any satellites.

The U.S. and Russian governments have also been in talks about making the GPS and GLOSNASS networks interoperable and compatible.  The U.S. and European Union have struck a similar deal as well.

The satellite launch last week occurred, not in Russia, but in Kazakhstan, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.  Russia rents the facility and the right to launch from Kazakhstan, under a long term contract.

The launch was significant as it was the first Russian launch from the facility since September.  Kazakhstan had temporarily banned launches, following a failure in which the Russian launch of another Proton rocket ended in failure.  This failed launch sent the Proton booster, full of highly toxic heptyl fuel, plunging into the countryside by the industrial city of Zhezkazgan. 

The effects of this incident on the local populous have yet to be fully determined, but launches have resumed with extra precautions.  Russia has relied heavily on launches of GLOSNASS satellites from the Baikonur location, in its efforts to repair the network.


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RE: Huh?
By spluurfg on 11/4/2007 10:39:26 AM , Rating: 3
That's an important point... the GPS system is maintained by the US military, but was essentially America's gift to the world -- can you imagine what things would be like without it? However, though they are not really allowed to in general, the military could in theory disable the GPS broadcasts for the public and allow only military units to receive it. This naturally would be a tremendous military disadvantage for anybody who didn't have satellite navigation systems.

However, if one doesn't want to be entirely cynical, if the GLONASS system is made interoperable with the GPS system (and Galileo), the combined signals from such a populated satellite system would give tremendous accuracy (down to inches instead of yards) and coverage to the general public.


RE: Huh?
By Ringold on 11/4/2007 12:13:44 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, the military has no problem scrambling or disabling (I dont know which way its accomplished) when they so desire.

I haven't flown much recently but around the 2004 election if a high-ranking government official, by that I mean any that warranted a moving TFR (temporary flight restriction), it was a roll of the dice if my GPS would be functional or not. Most often, it was functional, but I was warned by a FSS on several more occasions. When the GPS stops working, one just has to tune in VOR's, not a big deal, but its happened.


RE: Huh?
By spluurfg on 11/4/2007 1:55:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well I'm just reading off of wiki, which says that an executive order mandated that the selective availability capability be disabled in general. However I'm guessing that they still maintain the option...


RE: Huh?
By Ringold on 11/4/2007 3:50:57 PM , Rating: 2
I just checked the wiki, and under military uses it notes the ability to jam civilians as military equipment is apparently able to maintain a lock on an encrypted signal that civilian equipment can not.

So that suggests to me that you're right in that they don't flip it off.. they merely transmit another, albeit annoying, signal when they want to.

Or maybe that's not really different, and he really did give some sort of executive order to jam on those occasions. I don't know.


RE: Huh?
By jak3676 on 11/4/2007 6:39:20 PM , Rating: 4
There are still two pieces that the military controls that they could make use of when/if needed to limit the use of GPS systems to only approved military needs. However trying to use any of them would require an executive order and would likely only be used in cases of sustained extreme national emergency.

There are many commercial and military systems that rely on GPS signals for things other than positioning. GPS time can generally be accurate to within nanoseconds so it is used as a timing source for a variety of circuitry, especially communications. If the government felt it necessary to limit GPS signals to only military receives then that would force portions of the national infrastructure into a fault mode. Much of the official military communications system now rides over a commercial backbone. So limiting GPS signals would also be detrimental to the military. None the less, the capability still exists.

GPS receivers are used in three modes: the global positioning system (GPS), standard positioning system (SPS), and precise positioning system (PPS).

The SPS is available to all GPS receivers worldwide, both military and civilian. When a receiver is in the SPS mode, almanac, navigation, and timing information are received on the non-encrypted course acquisition (CA) code satellite signal. To deny unauthorized users the full accuracy of GPS, the Department of Defense (DoD) can intentionally places errors in the navigation and timing signal. This process is called selective availability (SA). The SA errors are unpredictable and can produce significant horizontal and elevation errors. This is one reason why SPS (commercial grade) receivers are not authorized for combat operations.

SA was turned off by executive order on May, 2, 2000.

The satellites also broadcast an encrypted precise (P/Y) code. This transmission is the basis for the PPS that is used by military GPS receivers. These receivers must have crypto keys loaded to detect and nullify the SA errors, which allows for more accurate position data. Also, the crypto keys provide a means of unscrambling the encrypted P/Y code, which is an anti-spoofing (AS) protection. Military receivers have this capability and are considered to be PPS receivers. Only PPS receivers are authorized for combat operations.

Of course signals can still be jammed. Contrary to some articles, neither SA nor AS have any impact on traditional jamming. When the signal to noise ration is below 34 decibels (db) the system is effectively jammed. Of course putting out a jamming signal like that is about like wearing a big red target on your head in the middle of the battlefield.

So yes, technically it can be done. But, I’m pretty sure that’s not something that will ever happen.


RE: Huh?
By Calin on 11/5/2007 2:59:03 AM , Rating: 2
The signal strength of the satellite signal must be very low at reception end - after all, the satellites have limited power, and are at a great distance.
I am certain a B52 filled with GPS jamming equipment could significantly overpower the satellite signal over more than 100 miles around its flight position


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