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

30th Anniversary of the First GPS Satellite Launched Into Orbit

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.

Wendell

Wendell

Wendell was a Land Surveyor for 26 years, then moved on to building websites for his second career. But he never lost sight of the surveying community and the other disciplines related to surveying. He's purposely stayed involved in the surveying industry because he has always been — and will continue to be — a Land Surveyor at heart.

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Norm Larson
Member

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

Bill C
Member

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.

Shelby H. Griggs PLS
Member

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

NorthernSurveyor
Member

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.  

GeeOddMike
Member

On the matter of the development of phase measurement, I always appreciated the work of Charles Counselman III and recommend the following short articles.https://honors.agu.org/winners/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. 

Loyal
Member

Posted by: GeeOddMikeOn the matter of the development of phase measurement, I always appreciated the work of Charles Counselman III and recommend the following short articles.https://honors.agu.org/winners/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”)

Bill C
Member

@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… Read more »

Bill93
Member

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

Loyal
Member

Posted by: Bill93The 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_lawshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics

Bill93
Member

Posted by: Loyalhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke%27s_three_laws

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

Loyal
Member

Posted by: Bill93

Posted by: Loyalhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke%27s_three_laws

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

I’ve been a huge Science Fiction fan as far back as I can remember. I still like some of the early Science Fiction Moves (even some of the bad ones), although many of the newer one rely far too much on “special effects.”Loyal

Bill93
Member

Posted by: LoyalI’ve been a huge Science Fiction fan as far back as I can remember. I still like some of the early Science Fiction Moves (even some of the bad ones), although many of the newer one rely far too much on “special effects.” Continuing the hijack …I prefer semi-realistic SF over fantasy and magic stuff.  I’ll accept warp drives and FTL if it’s a good story, but don’t break the rules of physics where the story doesn’t need to.  I don’t see a lot of movies because of the terribly unrealistic stuff that could be done right. Swooping aerobatic-appearing… Read more »

GeeOddMike
Member

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

not my real name
Member

Happy Anniversary. My profile picture is from 1990. 

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