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For Release: Feb. 6, 1997

Catherine E. Watson
(757) 864-6122

Release No. 97-011

The Origins, Evolution and Future of Global Satellite Navigation

The Global Positioning System (GPS) has been called the most significant spin-off of the Cold War. GPS, a system of 24 satellites in orbit around the Earth, enables very accurate navigation world-wide. Dr. Bradford Parkinson, the original Department of Defense GPS program director, will discuss the system’s history, applications and future on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m. at the NASA Langley H.J.E. Reid Conference Center.

Because GPS is fairly new (it was declared fully operational April 27, 1995), applications are still being conceived. Future applications may include automatic landing systems on airplanes and robotic farm tractors.

While some GPS implementations can offer phenomenal accuracy (within a few centimeters for landing aircraft), according to Parkinson, the system still requires improvements. Parkinson will discuss these improvements and what is needed to make GPS a global standard for navigation.

Parkinson also will present examples of satellite navigation research that addresses how GPS availability is expected to change the future of ground, marine and aerospace navigation worldwide.

Parkinson manages the NASA/Stanford Relativity Mission, Gravity Probe B, and directs Stanford University’s research on innovative uses of GPS. He has degrees from the US Naval Academy, MIT and Stanford. He has received many distinguished awards and authored more than 80 technical papers on guidance, navigation and control.

A media briefing with Parkinson will take place at 1 p.m. in the Reid Center. Parkinson will repeat the GPS lecture at 7:30 p.m. at the Virginia Air & Space Center, Hampton.

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