Possible GPS System Failure in U.S. Next Year

According to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S.' Global Positioning System (GPS) could begin to fail next year due to mismanagement and underinvestment by the U.S. Air force.

Air Force is in process of modernizing GPS and is uncertain whether it will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain the current GPS service without interruption.

The GAO report states, "In recent years, the Air Force has struggled to successfully build GPS satellites within cost and schedule goals" and "If the Air Force does not meet its schedule goals for development of GPS IIIA satellites, there will be an increased likelihood that in 2010, as old satellites begin to fail, the overall GPS constellation will fall below the number of satellites required to provide the level of GPS service that the U.S. government commits to."

According to Fox News, military operations, as well as millions of people and businesses who rely on the satellite-based navigation systems built into cars, boats and cell phones could be adversely affected.

Significant technical problems still threaten the project. The current IIF satellite program has overrun its original cost estimate by about $870 million. The launch of its first satellite, now scheduled for November 2009, was also delayed by 3 years.

“Diffuse leadership has been a contributing factor, given that there is no single authority responsible for synchronizing all procurements and fielding related to GPS, and funding has been diverted from ground programs to pay for problems in the space segment. DOD and others involved in ensuring GPS can serve communities beyond the military have taken prudent steps to manage requirements and coordinate among the many organizations involved with GPS,” the GAO report summarizes.
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