17 Mar, 2014

From The GPSTrackit Classroom: History of The Global Positioning System

Like so much of technology, people all over the world make use of GPS tracking without knowing the history, or sometimes anything about the invention of it.

GPS is defined as:

“A navigational system using satellite signals to fix the location of a radio receiver on or above the earth’s surface.”

The History of GPS is Fascinating.

shutterstock_88847497First off, the U.S. Department Of Defense, with the help of many engineers (including Ivan Getting, who was vice-president of the Raytheon Corporation throughout the 1950’s), developed the global positioning system for military uses during the 1960’s.

The U.S. government invested over twelve billion tax dollars into the development of GPS.

The first satellite system, TRANSIT, was launched into orbit around the earth in 1960 for naval purposes.

Five satellites made up the TRANSIT system, which accurately located ships at sea once every hour.

Today every GPS receiver can be located at any point and time on earth by the minute if not second.

The Timation Satellite was the first to follow the TRANSIT system in 1967, which proved the exciting fact that atomic clocks could operate accurately in space.

After the Timation satellite, GPS started developing rapidly with 11 more satellites launched between 1978 and 1985.

As of 1994, a total of 24 satellites were orbiting the planet, with at least 4 visible from every point of the earth at any given time.

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“The baseline satellite constellation consists of 24 satellites positioned in six earth-centered orbital planes with four operation satellites and a spare satellite slot in each orbital plane. The system can support a constellation of up to thirty satellites in orbit.” Federal Aviation Administration

GPS Wasn’t Always Meant For Everyone.

Originally, the purpose of GPS was to serve the U.S. government, but a tragedy in 1983 changed that.

A Korean Air Lines passenger plane flew into restricted Soviet territory by mistake, which happened because of a navigation error.

The USSR shot down the jet, killing all 269 people aboard.

After this terrible disaster, President Reagan ordered the military to make GPS tracking accessible to the public once the project was completed.

After completion, GPS tracking became available to all, though there was a difference between military tracking, and civilian.

A feature called Selective Availability made civilian tracking difficult, as well as inaccurate.

The feature submitted an arbitrary error of up to 100 meters.

In the year 2000, Selective Availability was turned off.

The feature can still be turned back on at anytime by the government for all of civilian tracking, or just specific areas of the globe.

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GPS Continues to Evolve, Making Tracking More Accurate, and Accessible.

“GPS changed the world of navigation. The GPS system has brought in a great deal of revolution in science and technology. It has highly enhanced the accuracy of weapons. GPS has its indomitable applications across a number of industries including agriculture and trucking. Hikers find GPS highly useful and in a number of instances, GPS could save lives.” -yukozimo.com/

GPS tracking has absolutely shifted reality for all. It has become a standard for people in almost every town and city in the world.

The history of GPS is fascinating, and the future of GPS is just as exciting as it is extremely promising.

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