The Global Positioning System, known more commonly simply as GPS, was invented all the way back in 1973. However, it wasn't officially made available until 1978, when it was strictly for use by military personnel only. It was finally made available to the general public in the 1980s, but it really started to gain momentum in the 1990s and early 2000s.
GPS technology remained relatively unchanged during this time, with the exception of a few small updates here and there. In 2019, however, the U.S. Space Force began launching GPS III. The new satellites boast plenty of new functionality, including new features that benefit both military and civilian personnel.
Bill Sullivan, vice president of Raytheon IIS and a key part of the support team for the new GPS III satellites, described the importance of modern GPS by saying: "Everyone uses GPS. It’s in phones, cars, watches – it’s everywhere. GPS is fundamental to what we do and the modernization effort is critical to the nation, whether that be for civilian users or the military."
GPS in 2020 and Beyond'''
The U.S. Space Force, which is an offshoot of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, is responsible for maintaining the new fleet of GPS III satellites. According to them, there are a number of direct benefits associated with the new GPS format, including:
- GPS signals are three times stronger with GPS III
- Each GPS III satellite has a life expectancy of 15 years, which is approximately double the lifespan of earlier satellites
- The new satellites are all equipped with eight times the amount of anti-jamming protection as previous devices
- A modular design makes it easy to make repairs, upgrades, and adjustments if necessary
General DeAnna Burt, director of operations and communications with the U.S. Space Force's main headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, spoke about their mission by saying: ''"For us, it's to deliver sustained, reliable GPS capabilities to America's warfighters. We're always looking to improve not only our military capabilities but our civilian capabilities as well."''
In addition to the benefits listed above, GPS III adds one more significant feature: a brand new frequency for use by civilians. Known as L1C, it's expected to add much-needed signal strength as well as compatibility with the EU's new Galileo format.
Lockheed Martin is currently contracted to manufacture no less than 10 GPS III satellites, with the first having launched in December 2018. A total of four had been launched by November 2020, although the fourth one will not be ready for use until 2021.
As you might expect, all of these new innovations result in modern GPS consuming more data on a daily basis than ever before.
To find out more information about GPS, feel free to head over to www.gps.gov, the U.S. government's official online resource for GPS information. Not only can you use this convenient portal to find the most up-to-date news and information regarding GPS technology, both within the U.S. and around the world, but you can also use it to verify and double-check the data on your GPS device, read helpful tips for how to better use your GPS device, and a whole lot more.
How GPS Systems are Using More Data Than Ever Before
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