By Ed Oswald | Friday, May 15, 2009 at 10:58 am
The GPS system is beginning to show its age, and like some of the elderly among us, may begin losing its way beginning in 2010. This is due to the aging of the satellies themselves, some of which have been in operation for close to 20 years.
According to the Government Accountability Office, the Air Force is beginning to fall behind in targets to replace aging equipment. Part of this has to do with the fact that some of these projects have not had decent oversight, while others have gone well over budget.
The next scheduled lauch of a GPS satellite is in November. This would be more than three years behind schedule, the GAO reports. According to its research, the probability of keeping all 24 satellites in the air drops below 95 percent next year, and down to 80 percent in the following two years. If these problems continue long term, the probability of a a fully-functional GPS system in 2017 is only 10 percent.
As these satellites fail, GPS will become less and less accurate as a result.
What may need to be looked at now is international cooperation. The EU is busy building Galileo, and Russia and China are also working on their own GPS system.
Of course, since GPS has a military use as well, the US Government may not be all too excited to let overseas systems in. However, if we can’t fix our own problems here, it may be the only viable option.