2003 Kepler Award

Presented to: Thomas A. Stansell

Citation: For sustained and significant contributions to the development of Satellite Navigation.


Thomas A. Stansell is a pioneer of satellite navigation and likely holds the record for the longest, continuously productive career in satellite navigation and positioning where he has served the satellite navigation community over a 43-year career. Tom began his career in 1960 when he joined the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory where he was assigned to the Navy Navigation Satellite System development program. He led a team, which developed the first integrated microcomputer based satellite navigation receiver. He also lead the team that developed the first microcomputer-based Doppler survey instrument, also called Geoceiver, the primary instrument employed by the Defense Mapping Agency for nearly two decades.

In the 1980's he lead the transition of Magnavox's commercial satellite navigation and positioning technologies and products from Transit to GPS. Among others this included the first truly portable GPS survey products, the first semi-codeless tracking of L2 and the first all digital GPS receiver architecture. He led Magnavox (and later Leica's) development of miniature GPS survey receivers, pioneered precise and real time GPS control of earthmoving machinery and received patents for multipath mitigation techniques.

He was a designer of satnav receivers and the first to deliver the first fully functional, multichannel GLONASS receivers available anywhere.

He has played a key role and contributed crucial ideas to the design of all new signals: L5, L2C and M-code. In this role, he was appointed by the JPO to lead a team to design the new civil signal on L2; an effort which eventually lead to him being recognized by the JPO with its 2002 GPS Navstar Award.

Tom has also served the Institute of Navigation as a past ION GPS Meeting Program and General Chair, is an ION fellow and has received numerous industry awards. Today he is still an influential GPS consultant advising the GPS Joint Program Office on modernization issues.