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Inside GNSS • May/June 2013

From Fledgling to Flight

The Boeing Company initiated the Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) program in the fall of 2003 to create a developmental platform for an optionally manned, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Initial flight test activity employed a modified MD530FF helicopter, with the first flight taking place on September 8, 2004. Six weeks later the program achieved a fully autonomous multiple waypoint demonstration flight from takeoff through landing.

March 1, 2013

The Sequester and Its GPS Discontents

Deep military spending cuts set to kick in March 1 will likely slow efforts to modernize the GPS constellation, insiders agree, in large part because many of the personnel needed to push the program forward will be sitting at home, unpaid, one day out of every five.

The human impact of the deep cuts taking effect when sequestration kicks in on Friday was already evident in mid-February during the program review conference held by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

February 28, 2013

Air Force Plans to Test Full Navigation Message on GPS L2C Signal

The Air Force will put the navigation message onto the civil L2C signal as part of a test it plans to conduct this summer, sources have told Inside GNSS.

The test will take place over a two-week period in June and will involve all of the satellites capable of broadcasting the signal.

February 28, 2013

GAO Report on Receiver Performance Invokes GPS LightSquared Controversy

A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on receiver performance and increased availability to radio frequency spectrum reveals just how complicated the issue underlying the GPS/LightSquared controversy is.

On February 22, the GAO sent the report — entitled “Spectrum Management – Further Consideration of Options to Improve Receiver Performance Needed” — to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

February 28, 2013

Lockheed Powers Up First GPS III Satellite Module

Well, the lights work. So far, so good.

The Lockheed Martin team developing the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation GPS III satellites has turned on power to the system module of the program’s first spacecraft, designated GPS III Space Vehicle One (SV-1).

According to the prime contractor, the achievement is a key indication that the team is on track to deliver the first satellite for launch availability next year, although the actual first launch will probably take place in 2015.

April 22, 2013 - April 24, 2013
Nashville, Tennessee USA
June 4, 2013 - June 5, 2013
Sioux Falls, South Dakota USA
February 19, 2013

PNT National Coordination Office to Focus on GPS Modernization, Spectrum, Signal Threats

With the urgent interference and patent controversies of the last two years largely resolved, the office tasked with helping sync the government’s GPS activities will take advantage of a lull in the action to plan a more strategic way forward — though that path does not currently appear to include talking to Congress about GPS civil funding.

April 16, 2013 - April 19, 2013
Boulder, Colorado
February 19, 2013

Air Force Awards Boeing Contract to Continue GPS Modernization

The U.S. Air Force has awarded The Boeing Company a $51 million to continue modernizing the GPS satellite constellation for up to five more years. The contract covers GPS IIF satellite shipment to the launch site in Florida, pre-launch preparation, post-launch checkout, handover, and on-orbit support. It has an initial one-year term with four one-year options.

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