Testifying before Congress in May, Stanford University professor Brad Parkinson–the chief architect of GPS and the original GPS program manager before his retirement from the USAF–echoed the concern of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that there will be insufficient backup satellites to fill gaps in the constellation before the DOD’s forecast 2014 launches of its next-generation GPS III units. (see AIN, June, page one.)
Iridium said it has begun taking steps to replace a lost communication satellite with one of eight in-orbit spares. The collision of a 2,000-pound decommissioned Russian satellite with the smaller Iridium craft on February 10 created a swirling field of debris but left only a tiny gap in Iridium’s 66-satellite constellation, resulting in brief outages for some customers.
Inmarsat last month began repositioning its I-4 satellite constellation in an effort aimed at providing full global SwiftBroadband coverage and improving network performance. Moving the three I-4 satellites into new orbital slots 24,000 miles in space is a complicated task, but officials say the result will be worth the effort.
The DOT Volpe Center’s September 10 report on the vulnerability of GPS to jamming and other interference, in addition to the events of the following day, have greatly heightened national concerns about the security of the satellite system and the degree of dependence that should be placed on it as the backbone of our future ATC system.
Satellite communications company Teledesic announced it has signed an agreement with Italian satellite maker Alenia Spazio SpA to build satellites for the company’s broadband Internet service. Formed by telecommunications maven Craig McCaw and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Teledesic will consist of 30 medium-orbit satellites and be designed to allow spectrum sharing with future Internet satellite systems.
Boeing cleared a major hurdle in the development of its recently announced air-traffic management system after the Federal Communications Commission granted the Seattle-based company a mobile satellite service license. The move allows Boeing to build a medium-earth-orbit constellation of non-geosynchronous satellites in the 2-GHz band.
The October announcement by Raytheon that it had won a Department of Defense contract–potentially worth $25 million–to develop next-generation anti-jamming systems for GPS underlines security specialists’ concern that GPS is now “an attractive target” for terrorists.
Orbit Communications, the third-largest provider of satellite TV, bought at auction the software and other assets of defunct FlightTime.com and its AirCharter.com online charter brokerage. Orbit said it hasn’t decided what it will do with the software.
OuterLink, a Lowell, Mass. company that specializes in mobile asset tracking, is at Heli-Expo 2008 promoting the latest version of its CommTrack satellite-based software suite and a new product, the CV2R cockpit voice and video recorder. Both are being featured at OuterLink’s booth (No. 2216).
The FAA awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin last month that will add a third leased geostationary satellite to the two existing satellites used for the wide-area augmentation system (WAAS). Acquisition of a third satellite follows a recommendation from an independent review board study that concluded it was too risky to depend on only two satellites for the availability of the WAAS signal.