Boeing Can Mix GPS with Iridium

April 27, 2007  - By
Image: GPS World

The Boeing Co. announced concepts for combining the GPS network with the Iridium low-earth orbit telecommunication network to improve accuracy, and signal acquisition in urban environments. Boeing executives delivered the briefing at the National Space Symposium for Pentagon and industry officials. There is no firm plan to turn it into a fielded system, however.

“In any event, this would not obviate the need for GPS upgrades in any way,” said retired Maj. Gen. Craig Cooning, vice president and deputy general manager of space and intelligence systems at Boeing. “What it does represent is an elegant solution for augmentation of GPS.”

According to the company, GPS signals could be acquired more quickly through amplification and rebroadcasting in a low-earth-orbit system.

Iridium is a constellation of LEO communication satellites originally developed by Motorola Inc. in the late 1990s. When the system proved uneconomical, it was almost de-orbited early in the decade, until the Defense Department and private investors put in new money to keep the systems in orbit. The Iridium constellation would have to be replenished in order to support the IGPS concept, according to Boeing, but an upgrade of the system would be necessary in any event by 2014.

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