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What’s New: Space Force seems to be wanting to re-think GPS. 

Why It’s Important: GPS is a great space-based system, yet it has it’s drawbacks.

  • The satellites are big and really expensive
  • They are built really well, but that means they last a long time. 
  • The combination of cost and long life means hardware refresh and updates take a long, long time. So it is more difficult for GPS to keep pace with innovations, threats, and other GNSS.

What Else To Know: Dr. Brad Parkinson, the original Chief Architect for GPS, has long advocated smaller, less expensive, shorter-lived GPS satellites.

  • At one point Brad was calling these smaller satellites “nibblesats.”
  • Companies intending to establish constellations of LEO PNT satellites are taking a similar approach. In addition, they envision having their clocks on the ground rather than on the satellites.


Space Force may launch GPS demonstration satellites to test new tech

The Space Force is exploring options for expanding the capabilities of its GPS satellites and is asking companies to propose ideas for delivering low-cost demonstration spacecraft to help test new technologies.

Space Systems Command, the service’s primary acquisition organization, said in a Feb. 5 notice it is conducting market research to refine its concept for a constellation of GPS demonstration satellites.