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Distributed Antenna for Higher Accuracy GPS Positioning and Altitude Determination
August 17, 2011

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Innovators at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) have patented a system and method that allows for accurate position and attitude determination using a distributed antenna system with a global positioning system (GPS). The technology accounts for the non-unique phase centers inherent in distributed antenna systems and can be used with multi-transmitter systems that utilize carrier phase measurements. By allowing the use of a distributed antenna system, the technology can facilitate 360 degree access to GPS signals, eliminating the need for multiple GPS antennas and the radio frequency switches that change between those antennas. The innovation improves accuracy, versatility, and cost-effectiveness for antenna systems of movable objects such as space vehicles, aircraft, satellites, and thrusters. JSC has received patent number 6,816,117 for this technology.


  • Versatile: Conforms easily to small spherical or cylindrical objects, such as small satellites and rockets
  • Accurate: Reduces the carrier phase error typically introduced by the non-unique phase center of a "wrap-around" antenna
  • Continuous operation: Eliminates the lag time that occurs when switching antennas in a multi-antenna GPS receiver
  • Cost-effective: Eliminates the need for complex hardware and control systems, substantially reducing costs


  • Aerospace industry (to provide uninterrupted and accurate tracking of fast moving objects)
  • Military operations (incorporated into missile guidance and control systems in the defense industry)
  • GPS applications (installed on fleet vehicles to improve tracking capabilities)


Johnson Space Center has received patent protection (U.S. 6,816,117→) for this technology.

Licensing and Partnering Opportunity

This technology is being made available through JSC's Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office, which seeks to transfer technology into and out of NASA to benefit the space program and U.S. industry. NASA invites companies to consider licensing this technology for commercial applications.

Contact Information

If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA's technology transfer program, please contact:

Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office
NASA's Johnson Space Center
Phone: 281-483-3809
E-mail: jsc-techtran@mail.nasa.gov

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Page Last Updated: January 16th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator