Failing GPS Satellites May Cause Problems

Without GPS, Astro Navigation will again become important

It may be time for Superyacht Captains to Dust off their Sextant Skills. The much relied on GPS navigation satellite system operated and maintained by; the US Air Force is, we are told, currently beset by several on-going crises.

The latest satellite added to the system earlier this year in March has already developed a complex signalling interference fault, degrading its navigational signals, and preventing its inclusion in the current group of ageing satellites, 30 of which orbit 12,500 miles above the Earth, arranged in planes of six for global coverage.

The next possible launch, which was due to take place February next year, has already been delayed because there is not a spare rocket available in which to send it into orbit

To compound the problem further, Lt Col David Goldstein, Chief Engineer, GPS Wing, American Air Force told delegates at the European Navigation Conference, in Naples, Italy that they will launch no further satellites until the interference problem is solved.

Writing in the journal “ Spaceflight NowStephen Clark reports that the American equivalent of the National Audit Office, the Government Accountability Office has published a report for Congress, detailing delays and schedule uncertainty, raising doubt as to the ability of the U.S. Air Force to maintain the current system and its necessary replacements.

The report states, “It is yet uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption. If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected.”

Perhaps it is time for Superyacht Captains to look again at re acquiring the skills of the astro-navigator. With impeccable timing fellow yachtsman Allan Murray has provided the perfect vehicle to do just that in that he has written a book entitled Astro-navigation from Square One 2010 Priced at £19.95 the 289 page paperback book is available from the publishers website or through booksellers such as Amazon and Bookharbour. Very much in line with modern technology the same book is available as an E book for just £3.95 from the same sources.

I will be reviewing this book just as soon as I have been able to read and evaluate it and will report back once I have done so.