GPS III Explained

27 Feb 2019

GPS is currently a lifeline to some four billion people worldwide. Even those who don’t use GPS specific devices often use GPS features on their mobile phones to help with directions, navigation, and more. Businesses rely on it for planning safer routes, even college campuses are beginning to use GPS technology to fuel delivery robots. In other words, the world relies on GPS.

The technology that drivers GPS is somewhat dated, however. It’s been around since the 1960s, and reached full viability in 1995. With the speed at which traditional technology advances, that means the technology that drives GPS is somewhat dated. Just think about the computers that dominated in 1995. Honestly, most people were just discovering dial-up Internet services at the time.

What is GPS III?

Some view GPS III as the next generation of GPS. You might even consider it GPS 2.0. Despite the fact that GPS satellites and information is widely used in civilian and military endeavors today, it is not infallible. GPS III seeks to eliminate some of the weaknesses in the original GPS technology to make it more accurate, reliable, powerful, and jamming resistant than its predecessor.

How much more accurate? Geospatial World suggests that the newer satellites will offer three times greater accuracy than current GPS satellites. While current GPS receivers provide accuracy within 10 to 33 feet, the newer satellites offer improved accuracy of three to 10 feet for civilian use and even greater accuracy for military applications.

An added benefit is that the new satellites and system are interoperable with international navigation systems.

When Will GPS III Be Available?

The first GPS III satellite launched into space on December 23, 2018 for a period of testing that could last up to 18 months before going into service as part of the GPS constellation. With each subsequent satellite that is launched and joins the system, the technology that fuels global positioning tracking will become more widely available at lower costs and with greater accuracy.

While it may seem like things are moving fast for those just now hearing about GPS III, the truth is that it has been in the works since 1998 with the support of President Bill Clinton. It wasn’t until 2000 though that it received authorization from Congress. Prior to the launch in December of 2018, there were several launch delays. Time will tell if the official launch and subsequent testing will be successful and GPS III will actually live up to its expectations.

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