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

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Wendell
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January 21, 2019 12:09 pm  

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.

This topic was modified 1 month ago 3 times by Wendell
This topic was modified 4 weeks ago 2 times by Wendell
This topic was modified 3 weeks ago by Wendell

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Norm Larson
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January 21, 2019 1:07 pm  

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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January 21, 2019 2:26 pm  

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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January 21, 2019 2:32 pm  
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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January 21, 2019 3:24 pm  

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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January 21, 2019 6:04 pm  

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

PLS CA, ID, NV, OR, WA
Commercial Vehicle Driver


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NorthernSurveyor
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January 21, 2019 8:22 pm  

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.  

Retired BLM Chief Cadastral Surveyor, Alaska
PLS since 1982, 28 years private practice


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GeeOddMike
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January 21, 2019 9:35 pm  

On the matter of the development of phase measurement, I always appreciated the work of Charles Counselman III and recommend the following short articles.

Charles C. Counselman III

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/422110/charles-c-counselman-iii-64-sm-65-phd-69/

I sort of miss the days when the technology was developing and not so much of a “black box.” Wasn’t it Asimov who said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic?” Too lazy to look it up.

 

This post was modified 4 weeks ago by GeeOddMike

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Loyal
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January 21, 2019 10:22 pm  
Posted by: GeeOddMike

On the matter of the development of phase measurement, I always appreciated the work of Charles Counselman III and recommend the following short articles.

Charles C. Counselman III

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/422110/charles-c-counselman-iii-64-sm-65-phd-69/

I sort of miss the days when the technology was developing and not so much of a “black box.” Wasn’t it Asimov who said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic?” Too lazy to look it up.

 

Arthur C. Clarke (one of his "3 laws")

"Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves."
Gandalf, The Two Towers


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Bill93
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January 22, 2019 5:57 am  

The magic quote was Clarke, but I don't recall that he had 3 laws.  Are you thinking of Asimovs 3 laws of robotics?


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Bill C
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January 22, 2019 8:44 am  

@geeoddmike

I almost mentioned Chuck Counselman in my previous post; he's quite a cool guy. I remember attending a small seminar he gave in the late 1980s or maybe in 1990 about some new ideas in locating satellites to the centimeter or sub-centimeter level. At the end, I asked him what it meant to locate an object several meters in size to that level. 😊 It was kind of a foreshadowing of the "Where on the Rod is the Corner?" discussion here on RPLS Today. For a couple of years afterwards, I had occasional acquaintance with him via a mutual avocation. He exhibited that great combination of being a really smart person and also a really nice person.


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GeeOddMike
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January 22, 2019 9:58 am  

Thanks for the correction. I envy Bill C’s acquaintance with one of the greats. I have known some really smart people and found most to be on the nice side. Some revealed themselves to be so only after closer acquaintance. 

I ran across an early 90’s presentation ( https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/dr.geophysics/map-projections-datums-gis-and-gps-for-everyone ) that I am pretty sure originated at the NGS. It includes the following slide:

8C2A4D97 6D34 4413 9FD8 1C9AB39D0FF2

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Loyal
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January 22, 2019 10:11 am  
Posted by: Bill93

The magic quote was Clarke, but I don't recall that he had 3 laws.  Are you thinking of Asimovs 3 laws of robotics?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke%27s_three_laws

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics

"Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves."
Gandalf, The Two Towers


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not my real name
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January 22, 2019 11:21 am  

Happy Anniversary. My profile picture is from 1990. 


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Bill93
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January 22, 2019 12:17 pm  

Posted by: Loyal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke%27s_three_laws

Thanks for the reminder.  There go my credentials as a science fiction reader.


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