Bradford W. Parkinson, Thomas Stansell, Ronald Beard, and Konstantine Gromov

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: Navigation by use of earth satellites is expanding explosively. Current estimates are that 60,000 civil sets are being produced each month. With increased use in automobiles, ships, and airplanes, this application of satellites is expected soon to rival the communications applications. This paper traces the evolution of satellite navigation from the early stages of the Navy’s Transit system through the developmental Navy and Air Force programs known as Timation and 621B. These early efforts contributed strongly to the synthesis of the current satellite navigation system called GPS. GPS has demonstrated a wide range of applications, from precise survey (at the millimeter level) to the landing of airplanes with positioning uncertainties of a few centimeters. The paper describes the operation of all of these systems, as well as the two Russian systems, Cicada and GLONASS. As the applications expand, GPS will touch every citizen of the world in ways that even today are not fully appreciated.
Published in: NAVIGATION: Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 42, Number 1
Pages: 109 - 164
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