GPS Satellite Could Begin to Fail as Early as 2010
Kate Lance passed along the following:
GPS system ‘close to breakdown’
It has become one of the staples of modern, hi-tech life: using satellite navigation tools built into your car or mobile phone to find your way from A to B. But experts have warned that the system may be close to breakdown. US government officials are concerned that the quality of the Global Positioning System (GPS) could begin to deteriorate as early as next year, resulting in regular blackouts and failures or even dishing out inaccurate directions to millions of people worldwide.
Global Positioning System: Significant Challenges in Sustaining and Upgrading Widely Used Capabilities
GAO-09-670T May 7, 2009. The Global Positioning System (GPS), which provides position, navigation, and timing data to users worldwide, has become essential to U.S. national security and a key tool in an expanding array of public service and commercial applications at home and abroad. The United States provides GPS data free of charge. The Air Force, which is responsible for GPS acquisition, is in the process of modernizing GPS. In light of the importance of GPS, the modernization effort, and international efforts to develop new systems, GAO was asked to undertake a broad review of GPS. Specifically, GAO assessed progress in (1) acquiring GPS satellites, (2) acquiring the ground control and user equipment necessary to leverage GPS satellite capabilities, and evaluated (3) coordination among federal agencies and other organizations to ensure GPS missions can be accomplished. It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption. If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected.
Highlights Page (PDF) http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09670thigh.pdf