Navigators and explorers have relied on the stars and the constellations to locate their position for ages. They were and still are one of the most dependable navigation and positioning system based on stellar positions. But the risk of getting lost in overclouded nights or during continuous storms were one of the possibilities. With the advancement of technology mankind tried to develop one technology after the other that would be dependable even when there is not ample visibility and the positioning and location indicator or technology would be full proof in every other conditions. In June 26, 1993 GPS or the Global Positioning System came to existence after the launch 24th Navstar satellite into orbit by US Air Force. This location and positioning technology can tell your exact location on the planet with the latitude, longitude and even the altitude, give or take a few feet.
The early technological navigation system developed from the compass based navigation system to a radio based on during the Second World War. Decca Navigator or LORAN was such ground based radio navigation system developed during the mid 1900s.
· THE IDEA:
After the launch of the first satellite in the orbit by the then USSR, Sputnik was monitored by scientists at Johns Hopkins’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). Scientists realized that they could accurately monitor or locate ‘Sputnik’ using some simple physics and complicated calculations. This led to the idea and study about doing the reverse, which is using the satellite to pinpoint any particular user.
APL or Applied Physics Lab went on to develop the first satellite navigation system. It was known as Transit. Using accurate clocks placed in space, Transit used a five satellite constellation to pinpoint or locate navigational targets. Omega Navigational System was also developed during that time, and it was a radio navigation system. But there were lot of limitations and need of accuracy and diligence from these two systems. The hunt continued.
Mobile System for Accurate ICBM Control or MOSAIC was proposed by the US Air Force. This was LORAN in a 3-D form. But this project and in-depth study (code named as Project 57) was the path breaking in terms of concept and propositions that went on to shape the modern GPS or the Global Positioning System. The project went on to be known as Project 621B and further development and research ensued to develop the navigation system.
The work of developing a navigation system was carried out more from a military strategy and still continues to be an integral and part of military strategy and decisions. The parallel development of Time navigation of Timation satellites by the US Navy made a huge leap in making GPS a reality. They used atomic clocks to be placed in the satellite. The SECOR or Sequential Collation of Range satellite by the US Army also became one of the pioneering steps towards the perfection of modern day GPS.
During the 1973 top defense officials met and discussed in creating DNSS or Defense Navigation Satellite System. This program was renamed Navstar. The satellite and Navstar came to be known as Navstar-GPS which was eventually shortened to GPS.
GPS was made freely available for civilian use by Ronald Reagan after sufficient development after an air tragedy that claimed more than 250 lives. After that lots of modifications and inventions have slowly shaped the modern day GPS. United States has implemented several improvements and GPS service for civilians has increased heavily in accuracy and integrity. Devices are improving and so are the satellites. Though there are some issues that still need to be addressed, GPS is going to be the future of global positioning and location for the future.
About The Author: Sarah is a writer/blogger by profession. She loves writing, travelling and reading books. She contributes to Hydroxycut