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Global Positioning System: A Generation of Service to the World

Global Positioning System: A Generation of Service to the World

Twenty years ago, the United States Air Force announced the Global Positioning System had achieved Full Operational Capability. As of July 17, 1995, a total of 24 satellites were on orbit, providing global 24-hour coverage. In the two-decades since, GPS has been woven into nearly every aspect of human activity, from military operations to sports.

At the time “FOC” was announced, GPS had already proved its worth during Operation Desert Storm, allowing ground forces to navigate the featureless desert terrain, even when the system had only 16 satellites providing about 19 continuous hours of coverage per day. Today, roughly two-thirds of all munitions being used to combat ISIS rely on some form of GPS guidance.

Nearly forty years ago, the Air Force launched the first Global Positioning System satellite, dubbed Navstar. But even the most visionary of those people involved with that first launch probably could not have guessed how much GPS would eventually impact the world.

“It is amazing how people continue to find new and innovative uses for the GPS signal,” said Micah Walter-Range, Space Foundation Director of Research and Analysis.

“GPS can be used on a personal level for summoning a taxi or ridesharing service to your precise location, or for letting your ‘smart home’ devices know when you are near your house so they can be ready and waiting for you. Businesses also rely heavily on the precision timing of the GPS signal, which enables companies to capitalize on the reliability and accuracy of an atomic clock for a relatively low cost,” he said.

 

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Source:: Air Force Space Command