Blog Editor’s Note: More is better, diversity of sources is better still.
In fairness, satellites in LEO add a bit of diversity compared to having them all in MEO.
And there are a lot of advantages to focusing on space. Global coverage for sure.
But also organizationally. More PNT in space is much “easier” than more diverse sources because space is sexy, we have a Space Force, and there are lots of big companies who want the business and will lobby for it. Also, satellites are “more of the same” so they aren’t as hard to justify as more diverse, albeit much less expensive and more resilient, PNT sources might be.
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR CIVILIANS: THIS IS NOT FOR YOU!
The proposed system will be part of the National Defense Space Architecture.
Unlike China, the US wants to bifurcate instruments of national power. So the military will have stronger PNT. But the economy and population that power the military will be left without.
Hundreds of future satellties under the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA) may carry GPS-type payloads to complement, improve, and back-up GPS satellites, per the Department of the Air Force Space Development Agency (SDA).
SDA is “interested in proliferating a low-cost L-band Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) service as a payload on the SDA Tranche 2 Transport Layer,” per a Nov. 3 Request for Information (RFI).
“The PNT payload would include an on-orbit reprogrammable PNT signal generator, mid-size High Powered Amplifier (HPA), and associated fixed wide beamwidth antenna,” the RFI said. “The goal is to proliferate this low-cost payload onto hundreds of satellites within future SDA Tranches – potentially as early as Tranche 2. Ideally, solutions will be highly informed by the Tranche 1 Transport Layer and share technical approaches and hardware where possible as size, weight, power, cost (SWAP-C), technical readiness and manufacturability will be significant constraints.”