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The GPS History

GPS Timeline

1960

April 13 The first navigation satellite TRANSIT IB is launched for use by the U.S. Navy to accurately locate ballistic missile submarines and ships.

May 15 Drs. Ivan Getting and Shep Arikin of Raytheon propose a radio-navigation system called MOSAIC (Mobile System for Accurate ICBM Control) to the U.S. Air Force.

June 3 The Aerospace Corporation is established "to aid the United States Air Force in applying the full resources of modern science and technology to the problem of achieving those continuing advances in ballistic missiles and military space systems which are basic to national security." Dr. Ivan Getting becomes the company's first president.

1963

Project 57 begins at The Aerospace Corporation. The study seeks to clarify areas where space systems could be used for military applications. According to Dr. Ivan Getting, it was "in this study that the concept for GPS was born."

Under the direction of the Air Force, the Project 57 study becomes Project 621B, and Aerospace is asked to continue its work on determining navigation coordinates from satellite signals. Dr. Brad Parkinson notes that Project 621B "had many of the attributes that you now see in GPS. It has probably never been given its due credit."

1964-1966

Aerospace scientists and engineers conduct a series of satellite navigation studies within the company’s Systems Planning Division. These studies arrive at the operational concept for GPS as we know it today.

1972

November Air Force Col. Dr. Brad Parkinson is assigned by Gen. Ken Schultz to manage the 621B program. Parkinson's recognition that a synthesis of three competing satellite navigation proposals was needed marked the beginning of the first real progress toward the eventual approval of GPS by the Defense Department.

1973

April U.S. Navy TIMATION system and the Air Force System 621B 3d navigation system combine in an effort to develop a Defense Navigation Satellite System, which would later become NAVSTAR or GPS.

1974

August 17 The deputy secretary of defense suggests a program based on the GPS concept be established, marking the start of the conception-validation phase of the program.

1978

February 22 After an initial launch failure, the first the GPS Block I satellites is launched. Block I comprised 10 developmental satellites launched from 1978 through 1989.

1983

May 20 The Air Force signs a $1.2 billion contract for the production of 28 GPS Block II satellites with Rockwell Space Systems.

September A Korean civilian airliner is shot down by Russian fighters after accidentally intruding into Soviet air space. To prevent any such tragedy from happening again, President Ronald Reagan declassifies NAVSTAR; GPS becomes available to civilians.

1985

October 9 The last of the Block 1 satellites is launched.

1989

February 14 The first of the GPS Block II production satellites is launched. From 1989 to 1997, 28 production satellites are launched; the last 19 satellites in the series are updated versions, called Block IIA.

1990

December NAVSTAR GPS becomes operational.

1991

The Persian Gulf War enables American military forces to validate the usefulness of GPS in combat situations. Although not fully operational, GPS allows the military to obtain accurate coordinates in the featureless Iraqi desert and to achieve a quick victory.

1992

The Aerospace Corporation, as part of the GPS team, receives the Collier Trophy, the nation's most prestigious aeronautical award for the work it has done developing GPS.

1994

January 17 The last of the Block IIA satellites is launched, completing the GPS constellation.

February 17 The Federal Aviation Administration announces that GPS is operational an integrated as a part of the U.S. air traffic control system.

March 9 The Air Force announces the completion of the 24 Block II GPS satellite constellation.

1995

April 27 Air Force Space Command declares the Block II NAVSTAR GPS constellation fully operational.

1996

March 29 The National Security Council’s Office of Science and Technology Policy details a comprehensive national policy for the use and management of GPS.

1997

January 17 The Delta rocket carrying the first of the GPS Block IIR satellites explodes after liftoff.

2001-2003

Military battles in Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks and during Operation Iraqi Freedom demonstrate the precision of GPS in military conflict.

2003

October 11 Dr. Ivan Getting dies at the age of 91 at his home in Coronado, California.

2004

March Drs. Ivan Getting and Brad Parkinson are awarded the Charles Stark Draper Prize by the National Academy of Engineering.

March 18 GPS satellite 2R-11 is dedicated to the late Dr. Ivan A. Getting, who envisioned these “lighthouses in the sky serving all mankind.”A plaque inscribed with his words is attached to the satellite.

May

Drs. Ivan Getting and Brad Parkinson are inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

2005

The first of GPS Block IIF satellites are scheduled to launch.

Source: http://www.aero.org/education/primers/gps/gpstimeline.html