By Staff Sgt Antonio Gonzalez
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
The Global Positioning System is celebrating its 20th anniversary today! On July 17, 1995, the Air Force officially declared the GPS fully operational. The system is a constellation of orbiting satellites that provides navigation data to military and civilian users all over the world. The system is operated and controlled by just seven Airmen, averaging 23 years in age, at the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.
Find out how GPS operates from one of those Airmen:
Air Force officials held their first news event, dubbed an“open forum,” via the popular micro-blogging application Twitter last week largely due to the fact that they needed to get the word out concerning a report issued about the Global Positioning System, according to Air Force Space Command spokesperson Mr. Dan Wade.
The added muscle provided by social media was due in large part because of what appeared to be a “stagnant” reception of the facts, he said.
The forum wasn’t like a traditional Air Force-mainstream news conference; it allowed anyone, anywhere with Internet access the ability to ask a Headquarters Air Force Space Command official a question about the GPS system.
The back and forth dialog allowed people an unfiltered approach to developing their own opinions about the subject.
“Is there any actual probability of the GPS systems going down in 2010, or is it just worst case scenario – like my commute?,” said Justin Herman, a Washington, D.C. based bloggerwho was online for the forum.
“No, the GPS will not go down. GAO points out, there is potential risk associated with a degradation in GPS performance,” said Col. Dave Buckman, AFSPC command lead for Position, Navigation and Timing who was online to respond to the questions.
See more here and here. The archived conversation is here. Check out Air Force Space Command’s Twitter profile here. The online forum has resulted in hundreds of stories and comments from bloggers and mainstream media.
Air Force Space Command’s Commander General C. Robert Kehler said:
“Let me state emphatically – since we declared Full Operational Capability in 1995, the Air Force has maintained the constellation above the required 24 GPS satellites on orbit at 95 percent.In fact, we have achieved sub-three meter accuracy,” said General Kehler. “The Air Force has been a good GPS steward continually providing ‘better than expected’ service to our GPS users.At this point, we foresee no significant loss of service in the future, near or far.”