Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Russia Challenges the U.S. Monopoly on Satellite Navigation
Published: April 4, 2007
Russia plans to launch eight navigation satellites to compete with the Global Positioning System operated by the U.S.

This New York Times article describes the Russian effort to complete its own GPS system, called GLONASS, by launching eight more satellites. This would make it operational over the Russian land mass and nearby countries. The network is seen as a competitor to the US system and an effort to bolster Russia's prestige. Many countries fear reliance on an American system in case of problems in international relations. The article says that the European system, Galileo, is stalled over fears of unprofitability. The Chinese are also planning a system.

Conceivably a GPS receiver that could use multiple systems would be more accurate. It could also work even when one system or the other was unavailable. Even at the best of times the US system may work intermittently, although it is much better now than previously.

It would be great if the countries working on GPS could develop a universal system. Since that seems unlikely, they should at least cooperate on standards to benefit all users.

For now the systems we have work well in the forest, but every improvement is welcome.

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