Nov 11, 2015
By Don Jewell
That is, in the People’s Republic of Boulder, Colorado. To those of us who live in Colorado, Boulder is known by this seemingly timeless but absolutely accurate appellation. This stunningly beautiful city located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, known as the Flatirons, is where the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Advisory Board (PNTAB), which provides independent advice to the National Executive Committee on Space-Based PNT (EXCOM) from outside the U.S. government, chose to meet in the waning days of October 2015. Ironically, they chose the same week as a Republican presidential candidates debate, which took place at the University of Colorado just a couple of miles away. The PNTAB was also concomitant with the ICG, the Tenth Meeting of the International Committee on GNSS (ICG-10), held Nov. 2-5, 2015. Both the PNTAB and ICG were held at the Boulder NCAR/UCAR facility, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Center Green Conference facility.
The PNTAB serves a vital purpose. Board memberse advise the highest levels of the U.S. government (USG) concerning all matters relating to PNT. This open-ended charter covers a multitude of sins, and as the new PNTAB Chairman John Stenbit, stated clearly, it is important to focus on the doable, even if it seems difficult, but not to tilt at windmills. I have known and worked with John Stenbit for more than 25 years, especially during his two stints in the Pentagon, and I find him to be extremely knowledgeable and ethical. He is certainly well-spoken and gregarious, but he does not suffer fools, and is known to be resolute, which is a pseudonym for stubborn and hardheaded, but in a good way. I look forward to his chairmanship.
You can view the PNTAB presentations at the www.gps.gov website. While there, you will note there were more than 25 presentations, and most were excellent. Only a couple required the audience to consume copious amounts of caffeine to remain coherent.
In the end, the PNTAB adopted courses of action (COA) on which to formulate recommendations for the EXCOM. For our purposes, the pertinent COAs centered around two main subject areas: Spectrum protection and eLoran. The spectrum protection issues are fraught with equal parts litigious danger and tedium. Not coincidently, the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) kicked off in Geneva, Switzerland, on Nov. 2, just two days after the end of the PNTAB. Several of the PNTAB members attended the closing Saturday night PNTAB dinner and flew from Denver direct to Geneva Sunday morning, just in time for some minor jet lag adjustments, and then attended the opening ceremonies of WRC 2015 in snowy Switzerland.