A NAVIGATION SYSTEM USING RANGE MEASUREMENTS FROM SATELLITES WITH COOPERATING GROUND STATIONS

Roy E. Anderson

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: A growing population and a growing economy in the United States and throughout the world will result in greatly increased travel and shipping for commercial, pleasure, and military purposes. Technological developments will increase the already wide range of speed, size, and maneuverability of the ships and airplanes that must share the surface and air spaces. It is evident that there would be great value in a single world-wide, full-time system that combines the functions of accurate, frequent position-fixing with current position simultaneously available ashore, and a capability for communicating essential information between traffic advisory and control centers and the craft that are enroute. Several system concepts were examined and it was determined that these future needs can best be met by a range measuring technique that employes satellites and cooperating ground stations. With only four launches, sixteen to twenty-four simply pulse repeater satellites may be placed in 5600 nautical mile inclined circular orbits, and when used with six suitably located ground stations they can provide continuous global coverage for the whole spectrum of non-military craft, from supersonic transports to small surface vessels. The principle of operation is adaptable to synchronous satellites where these might be used to special advantage. The system will provide fixes with better than ±1 nautical mile accuracy for surface vessels and aircraft and better than ±0.1 nautical mile for special users. The ground station interrogates the user via a pair of satellites at intervals appropriate to his needs, and processes the returned range pulses and the satellites, known positions to compute the user's fix. The position data are sent to the user via one of the satellites, and are automatically displayed within one-half second after the range measurements are made. Among the major advantages of the system are simplicity, low cost, and unattended operation of the user equipment, which result from assigning all the computational complexities to the ground station. In addition, the flexibility of the system is such that it can provide essential information and communication capability for many important operations (e.g. sea-air rescue and air traffic control). The total cost of developing and implementing the system is shown to be reasonable and competitive with the cost of implementing new systems or extending present systems which can at best only provide partial fulfillment of the important functions performed by this proposed system.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 11, Number 3
Pages: 315 - 334
Cite this article: Anderson, Roy E., "A NAVIGATION SYSTEM USING RANGE MEASUREMENTS FROM SATELLITES WITH COOPERATING GROUND STATIONS", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 11, No. 3, Fall 1964, pp. 315-334.
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