2013 Fellow

Presented to: Ronald L. Beard

Citation: ION Fellow


Ron Beard is the Head of the Advanced Space PNT Branch (formerly the Space Applications Branch) at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) where he has made significant contributions to the generation and dissemination of precise time from space over the course of his 40-year career.

Mr. Beard joined the Navy and later NRL as the DoD was beginning to explore new concepts for a second-generation satellite-based navigation system. At NRL he worked for Roger Easton, who proposed "passive ranging" from satellites with synchronized clocks in what became the TIMATION project. There was very limited experience with precise clocks in THE space environment during those early days.

From 1968-1971, he was the Project Officer for Navigation Satellites in the Naval Air Systems Command's Astronautics Division and was the TIMATION project officer. In 1971 he joined the NRL and their early GPS development (1971-1979) as the project scientist in the NRL's GPS Program Office that developed Navigation Technology Satellites One and Two and operated the first atomic clocks in space. From 1979- 1983, he was the Deputy Project Manager for the Naval Space Surveillance System Modernization Program. From 1983 until 2004 he was the Program Manager of the NRL NAVSTAR GPS Clock Development Program that developed alternative sources of space qualified atomic clocks and hydrogen masers for the GPS program. He was the originator and principal investigator for the Laser Retro-Reflector Experiment, included as secondary payload on NAVSTAR 35 and 36 satellites to investigate clock and orbit error separation. Dr. Bradford W. Parkinson, the first Director of the GPS Joint Program Office, has acknowledged Ron as "a staunch supporter of GPS over many years."

Mr. Beard has participated in numerous technical groups including the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board Study Group into Global Air Navigation, Navy representative on Project Reliance Frequency Control Panel, Head of the DoD PNT Focus Team for Space Technology, past chair of the ITU-R Special Rapporteur Group on the future of the UTC Time Scale, and currently International Chair of the ITU-R Working Party 7A, Precise Time and Frequency Broadcast Services. He has authored or coauthored over 50 papers, including a dozen papers presented at various ION meetings. He has been an organizer of the Annual PTTI conference and the Joint Navigation Conference, and is currently serving as a Government Liaison to the ION's Military Division. He has been an ION member for over 30 years.