Global Positioning System3reliable navigation system. The Navy and Air Force were developing their own technologies in parallel to solve whatwas essentially the same problem. To increase the survivability of ICBMs, there was a proposal to use mobile launchplatforms (such as Russian SS-24 and SS-25) and so the need to fix the launch position had similarity to the SLBMsituation.In 1960, the Air Force proposed a radio-navigation system called MOSAIC (MObile System for Accurate ICBMControl) that was essentially a 3-D LORAN. A follow-on study called Project 57 was worked in 1963 and it was "inthis study that the GPS concept was born." That same year the concept was pursued as Project 621B, which had"many of the attributes that you now see in GPS"
and promised increased accuracy for Air Force bombers as wellas ICBMs. Updates from the Navy Transit system were too slow for the high speeds of Air Force operation. TheNavy Research Laboratory continued advancements with their Timation (Time Navigation) satellites, first launchedin 1967, and with the third one in 1974 carrying the first atomic clock into orbit.
Another important predecessor to GPS came from a different branch of the United States military. In 1964, theUnited States Army orbited its first SECOR (Sequential Collation of Range) satellite used for geodetic surveying.The SECOR system included three ground-based transmitters from known locations that would send signals to thesatellite transponder in orbit. A fourth ground-based station at an undetermined position could then use those signalsto fix its location precisely. The last SECOR satellite was launched in 1969.
Decades later during the early yearsof GPS, civilian surveying became one of the first fields to make use of the new technology, because they could reapbenefits of signals from the less-than-complete GPS constellation years before it was declared operational. GPS canbe thought of as an evolution of the SECOR system where the ground-based transmitters have been migrated intoorbit.
With these parallel developments in the 1960s, it was realized that a superior system could be developed bysynthesizing the best technologies from 621B, Transit, Timation, and SECOR in a multi-service program.During Labor Day weekend in 1973, a meeting of about 12 military officers at the Pentagon discussed the creation of a
Defense Navigation Satellite System (DNSS)
. It was at this meeting that "the real synthesis that became GPS wascreated." Later that year, the DNSS program was named
. With the individual satellites being associated withthe name Navstar (as with the predecessors Transit and Timation), a more fully encompassing name was used toidentify the constellation of Navstar satellites,
, which was later shortened simply to GPS.
After Korean Air Lines Flight 007, carrying 269 people, was shot down in 1983 after straying into the USSR'sprohibited airspace,
in the vicinity of Sakhalin and Moneron Islands, President Ronald Reagan issued a directivemaking GPS freely available for civilian use, once it was sufficiently developed, as a common good.
The firstsatellite was launched in 1989, and the 24th satellite was launched in 1994.Initially, the highest quality signal was reserved for military use, and the signal available for civilian use wasintentionally degraded (Selective Availability). This changed with President Bill Clinton ordering SelectiveAvailability to be turned off at midnight May 1, 2000, improving the precision of civilian GPS from 100 meters(330 ft) to 20 meters (66 ft). The executive order signed in 1996 to turn off Selective Availability in 2000 wasproposed by the US Secretary of Defense, William Perry, because of the widespread growth of differential GPSservices to improve civilian accuracy and eliminate the US military advantage. Moreover, the US military wasactively developing technologies to deny GPS service to potential adversaries on a regional basis.
Over the last decade, the U.S. has implemented several improvements to the GPS service, including new signals forcivil use and increased accuracy and integrity for all users, all while maintaining compatibility with existing GPSequipment.GPS modernization
has now become an ongoing initiative to upgrade the Global Positioning System with newcapabilities to meet growing military, civil, and commercial needs. The program is being implemented through aseries of satellite acquisitions, including GPS Block III and the Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX).