What If GPS Fails?

from the preparing-for-the-worst dept

Wired Magazine has an article wondering just what would happen if the GPS system failed. They point out the number of industries that have become somewhat reliant on the system that is run by the US Air Force and uses 28 satellites – eighteen of which are older than their intended life span. Of course, the system is designed to be somewhat redundant, so there would likely be a “degradation” in service rather than it disappearing completely. However, the article suggests that it’s about time we get a new GPS system up and flying, owned by private companies.

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Comments on “What If GPS Fails?”

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dorpus says:

Rocket dot com

Private “enterprises” for rocketry have appeared every month for a few decades now. Iridium has been the most successful so far in that arena. So let’s see, how exactly is a company supposed to make money from GPS services? Do users have to download banner ads first before they can see their coordinates?

xdroop (user link) says:

CLinically Thick

OK, exactly how would this business model work? You are going to beam information down to the surface of the earth, where anyone can receive it. If you use fancy encryption, someone will break it. If you use a proprietary algorythm to figure out location, someone will buy one of your ‘blessed’ devices and either hack it or reverse engineer it.

I know, I know! They should use it as a loss-leader for promoting something else! That’s right, launch a whole whack of very expensive satelites, and let people use them for free!

Not in this lifetime.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: CLinically Thick

> OK, exactly how would this business model work?

Step 1. you lock-in ~250 million tax payers…

Step 2. ?

Step 3. Someone (no, not you) profits.

Funny thing is that Joe Bubba is happy because he can still find his favorate Bass fishing spot after his second six pack.

And you know… as long as Joe Bubba is happy fishing for Bass instead of blowing up Federal Building Real Good ™, everyone is happy!

How long have you been in this country anyway?

Anonymous Coward says:

What if.... hell, find out:

If you want to find out what happens when GPS failes, search google, go to RadioShack to buy the parts and drive to the approach paths for your local internatiaonl aiport/shipping port/whatever and find out. It’s not that hard folks.

What you’ll find is that almost every major, potential WoMD system has a backup. How fluent the folks are who run/drive those systems are… well, let’s just say that’s what you’ll actually discover. BTW, it helps if you perform your little experiment in absolutely shitty weather conditions where visual navigation is impossible.

A couple of comments from/to other posters:

The companies that build GPS equipment didn’t put the satellite’s up. It just so happens to be cheaper to do a one-time install of electronics than run around replacing precision ball bearings on all of the missle fleet every 5 years. The civilian applications are just a side-effect. With that said, you can be quite sure that, in the future, civilian side applications of GPS will become a growing part of the GPS satellites are maintained and replaced (remember, we have spares up there already… screw jamming the GPS signle, it’s not that hard to strap a missle to a high performance fighter jet and shoot these satellites down… no shit, it’s been done).

> […] Iridium has been the most successful so far in that arena

ROLF… thanks, I needed a good laugh. If Iridium is a measure of success, then I sure as hell don’t want to know what your measure of failure is…

Yes, the Sovits have GOLNAS and the Europeans want their own system as well (they don’t trust either of the former superpowers (and keep in mind, that’s their thought process at work, not mine)). There was talk in Aviation Leak and Spy Technology as far back as 10 years ago about building dual band positioning receivers; however, I believe such optimism has been tempered by the credability of the Soviet/European space programs.

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