Most new Windows Mobile handsets now come with GPS capability. The system lets you navigate your way around our fair planet, geo-tag your photos or track your girlfriend when she goes to visit “the bloke about the curtains”. What’s perhaps not known about this great technology is that it all could come crashing down fairly soon. The Global Positioning System is operated by the US Air Force at substantial cost to the US tax-payer with the oldest GPS satellite still in operation launched in 1990. However, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has just issued a report warning that some GPS satellites could fail as soon as next year.
Although a modernisation programme is under way the first new satellite is yet to be launched – almost three years later than the scheduled 2007 start date. There’s now a very real danger that these may not be in service quick enough and the older satellites could stop working. The report states..
“If the Air Force does not meet its schedule goals for development of GPS IIIA satellites, there will be an increased likelihood that in 2010, as old satellites begin to fail, the overall GPS constellation will fall below the number of satellites required to provide the level of GPS service that the US government commits to. Some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected.”
GPS device makers are doing their best to gloss over these issues and remain unconcerned. They’re keen to point out that too many companies rely on this system and that only three satellites are acutally needed to get an accurate fix on your location.
Links – Sky News – Telegraph.co.uk