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Blog Editor’s Note: Dr. Gene McCall is the former Chief Scientist for Space Command. He has always brought interesting perspectives to PNT issues.

We are not at all qualified to evaluate the many issues and proposals in his paper. Generally, though, more space-based PNT with different characteristics from GNSS seems a good idea.

As always, we do caution about putting ALL our PNT eggs in the space basket. It is an increasingly dangerous place, common failure modes, systems are difficult and expensive to reach and modify once deployed, etcetera, etcetera. 

We are sure that our readers will find Dr. McCall’s ideas and proposals thought provoking.



Positioning Navigation, and Timing: New Needs for a New Century

By Gene H. McCall*
Wednesday, August 25th, 2021 @ 2:34PM

By – Gene H. McCall* Los Alamos, New Mexico

Abstract: This paper is a rough, preliminary proposal for a positioning, navigation, and timing(PNT) system using the experience gained from the fielding of large constellations, such as Starlink and Oneweb, and developing 5g communication technology. The result will be a system of 100 low earth orbit satellites, under civil control, separated from the military, which will give a position accuracy of one centimeter, or better, and time accuracy of one nanosecond, or less, at a cost far lower than that of the current GPS program. The system will be practically immune to jamming and spoofing.


It is not the purpose of this paper to define, precisely, a Positioning, Navigation, and Timing(PNT) system. Rather, it is intended as an outline that proposes a path to the future of PNT for the United States, in particular, and, even, the remainder of the world. It also defines a business case such that total government funding is not necessary.

The current system that provides the standard of PNT in the United States(US), and much of the world external to the US, is the Global Positioning System(GPS). Although the GPS was the first Global Navigation Satellite System(GNSS), other nations have since either built their own systems or have built augmentations to the GPS that improve services in a limited, or regional, area. Reference [1] gives a good summary of those systems.