What is GPS? Well, the Global Positioning System (GPS) can be described as a set of satellites that circle earth at fixed points and transmit signals to anyone on earth with a GPS receiver. Signals transmitted contain time and geographic point codes that enables one to tell their exact location as well as time anywhere on earth.
The history of GPS can be traced way back in 1960. The Global Positioning System was invented by the United States Department of Defense (DOD) originally meant for military intelligence applications around the 1960’s at the height of the Cold war. The invention was stirred by the launch of the Soviet Spacecraft sputnik in 1957.
Transit was the pioneer satellite system to be used in the USA in 1960. The five satellites allowed ships to transmit their position on the sea every once in an hour. This was succeeded by Timation satellite system in 1967, a revolution that brought about more accurate space exploration operations. GPS thereon developed rapidly especially for military purposes with a whopping 11 satellites having being launched between the years 1978 and 1985.
The USSR brought down a Korean jet in 1983 that the Reagan Administration had the mandate to open up Global Positioning System for civilian use and so as to facilitate the aircraft, transport and shipping sectors and avoid individual countries from getting into restricted territories.
The 1986 NASA Space Shuttle Challenger disaster brought a delay in advancement of the GPS. This went on till 1989 when the first Block II satellites were successfully launched. The US later on launched their 24th Navstar satellite in 1993, which, marked completion of the modern GPS constellation of satellites.
21 out of the 24 constellation satellites were active at any one time, with the remaining three acting as spares. This continued till 1995, when it was deemed fully operational. As for today, Global Positioning System networks has not less than 30 fully active satellites in the modern-day GPS constellation. Amazing. Right?
The holistic evolution of GPS system clearly shows the milestones that have been achieved over time. From just five simple satellites orbiting round the earth in the 1960’s to having over 30 active modern-day satellites, it only shows the speed that technology is advancing every other day.
Initially reserved for military operations and intelligence applications, GPS can now be used by almost everyone. With a GPS receiver, one can be able to locate towns, natural features as well as tell time of different regions on earth. This has been made a reality by encryption of GPS network on phones and personal computers.
Global Positioning System in modern day can be used in many navigation applications and software, mapping, earthquake research, geocaching, movie making as well as climate studies.