The Global Positioning System (GPS)

GPS is a space-based service that provides position, navigation, and timing information to users anywhere on Earth, at any time of day or night, in any weather. As GPS capabilities are part of virtually every ship, aircraft, smart phone, and most new automobiles, it is hard to imagine what life would be like without it. Aerospace has provided a unique role in the fostering of this global utility, supporting activities to define, approve, sustain, build, and deploy GPS for nearly 50 years. By the end of 2011, a total of 60 GPS satellites had been launched, with Aerospace closely involved with each and every one.       

Soldier checks the settings on the Global Positioning System device mounted in his vehicle prior to departing for a night raid near Tikrit, Iraq.

Soldier checks the settings on the Global Positioning System device mounted in his vehicle prior to departing for a night raid near Tikrit, Iraq. Image courtesy of U.S. Army.

Currently, Aerospace is involved with four generations of GPS satellites, two generations of the ground control segment, and a host of military user equipment efforts. Additionally, Aerospace works on a variety of system-level issues, including constellation management and design, alternative architecture studies and analyses, and agile management of the GPS radio spectrum. Throughout these activities, Aerospace works to help ensure and improve the accuracy, reliability, and security of the GPS service.