Global Positioning System
The design of GPS is based partly on similar ground-based radio navigationsystems, such as LORAN and the Decca Navigator developed in the early
,and used during World War II. Additional inspiration for the GPS came when theSoviet Union launched the first man-made satellite, Sputnik in
. A team of U.S. scientists led by Dr. Richard B. Kershner were monitoring Sputnik's radiotransmissions. They discovered that, because of the Doppler Effect, thefrequency of the signal being transmitted by Sputnik was higher as the satelliteapproached, and lower as it continued away from them. They realized that sincethey knew their exact location on the globe, they could pinpoint where thesatellite was along its orbit by measuring the Doppler distortion.The first satellite navigation system, Transit, used by the United StatesNavy, was first successfully tested in
. It used a constellation of fivesatellites and could provide a navigational fix approximately once per hour.In
, the U.S. Navy developed the Timation satellite which proved theability to place accurate clocks in space, a technology that GPS relies upon. In the
, the ground-based Omega Navigation System, based on phasecomparison of signal transmissionfrom pairs of stations, became thefirst worldwide radio navigationsystem.Friedwardt Winterberg proposed a test of General Relativity usingaccurate atomic clocks placed in orbit in artificial satellites. To achieveaccuracy requirements, GPS uses principles of general relativity tocorrect the satellites' atomic clocks. After Korean Air Lines Flight 007was shot down in
after straying into the USSR's prohibited airspace,
President Ronald Reagan
issued a directive making GPS freely available for civilian use, once it was sufficiently developed, as a common good. The first satellite was launched in
, and the 24th and last satellite was launched in
.Initially, the highest quality signal was reserved for military use, and thesignal available for civilian use intentionally degraded ("Selective Availability",SA). Selective Availability was ended in
, improving the precision of civilianGPS from about 100m to about 20m.
In 1972, the U.S. Air Force Central Inertial Guidance Test Facility (Holloman AFB), conducted developmental flight tests of two prototype GPS receiversover White Sands Missile Range, using ground-based pseudo-satellites.
In 1978, the first experimental Block-I GPS satellite was launched.
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