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30th Anniversary of First Block II GPS Satellite Launched Into Orbit  

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Wendell
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On February 14, 1989, the first Global Positioning System (GPS) "Block II" satellite was launched into Earth's orbit. To ensure global coverage, 23 additional satellites were launched over the following years at various altitudes and orbits. Thus, a new era of Land Surveying was born, although it would be several more years before it would become mainstream in the industry.

Originally developed by the U. S. Department of Defense, the new GPS system would eventually become a normal part of everyday life. You can find out more about Block II satellites here.

In more recent GPS news, the first Block III satellite was launched into orbit on December 28, 2018. However, it won't arrive in its final location for at least a few years, due to various delays and cost overruns. The remainder of the 10 Block IIIA satellites aren't scheduled to be completed until 2023. For more information, follow this link.

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Norm Larson
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I started using them in 1996 and I think it was February as well.  Thanks Wendell, now I feel old!

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Bill C
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The 30 years of Block II sure is a long time! Maybe the title of this discussion and the related article should be edited to show that they refer specifically to Block II. The *first* GPS satellite — an experimental Block I — was orbited in 1978. NGS was using GPS by 1982 or 1983 (the Macrometer came out in 1982). I was using GPS in an airborne project by 1985, or maybe 1984, with a Motorola Eagle Mini Ranger receiver.

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Wendell
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Posted by: Bill C

The 30 years of Block II sure is a long time! Maybe the title of this discussion and the related article should be edited to show that they refer specifically to Block II. The *first* GPS satellite — an experimental Block I — was orbited in 1978. NGS was using GPS by 1982 or 1983 (the Macrometer came out in 1982). I was using GPS in an airborne project by 1985, or maybe 1984, with a Motorola Eagle Mini Ranger receiver.

Good point, Bill. Headline has been updated.

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Bill C
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And to really surprise a lot of people, we can point out that the design work for GPS began almost 50 years ago. I think 1973 was the official start of the US Air Force's Navstar GPS program, but I recall reading that the actual inception was with a study group that met over the Labor Day weekend of 1972. So this coming September, we can reflect that we're using fundamentally 47-year-old technology (with improvements in the spacecraft over that time, and a lot of improvements in the exploitation of the not initially intended carrier phase observables 😉). [I see that Wikipedia says the Labor Day study group was in 1973; I have a strong recollection from the 1980s or early 1990s that it was in 1972, but either way, it was nearly 50 years ago!]

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Shelby H. Griggs PLS
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I will be celebrating 29 years of GPS usage in July, 1st worked with a Trimble 4000ST in July 1990. Hard to believe it has been almost 30 years!

SHG

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NorthernSurveyor
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Put me in the "I feel old now too" category as well.    Started observing and processing data in 1989.   Will have to dig out a copy of a presentation I did at a 1990 conference titled "GPS - the good, bad and ugly".   Most of my vision of where GPS would lead us in the future came to fruition.  

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