Wednesday, 20 May, 2009 Technology

GPS Satellite System May Fail by 2010


The government of the United States said that the worldwide network of satellites that constitute the Global Positioning System (GPS) might fail by the year 2010. A lot of people today depend on the satellite navigation network that provides directions for users while they drive in their cars or using mobile phones.

The system could fail because of two main problems: mismanagement and a lack of investment. The first satellite that was supposed to replace the 20-year-old system was scheduled for launch in 2007, but it will only be ready by November 2009. Experts still cannot give any details on whether the satellites that are in orbit today will keep the GPS running efficiently until its replacements will be ready.

A study conducted by the U.S. government accountability office (GAO) states that the satnav system might fail by 2010. The system has already shown its side effects, showing the wrong direction to 1 in 3 motorists that stuck in unusual or/and dangerous places.

The signals sent by the network of GPS are monitored by the U.S. Air Force. Due to the fact that the U.S. Air Force did not succeed in keeping the system up to date, it was highly criticized by the U.S. government accountability office in one of its latest reports. Despite the fact that Air Force spends about $2 billion in order to keep the system running properly, the GAO stated that the regular delays along with overspending could lead to the failure of the entire system.

"It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption," said the report. The failure of the system could bring serious consequences, including problems linked with national security and defense. Troops abroad will not be able to map and track enemy targets and collect valuable information.

In addition, besides providing drivers the right directions, the GPS technology allows tracking offender's locations using electronic tagging devices.

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