CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The answer is yes. Adjusting a few of the global positioning satellites in orbit is intended to improve the accuracy and reliability of GPS devices around the world by April 2010. The shift will help travellers and make it easier to track 911 cellphone calls. But its real purpose is meant to aid troops in the field, especially those now fighting in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. The Air Force controls 30 GPS satellites, a system that maps the globe. There are blank spots, particularly in remote areas and sometimes in cities with tall buildings.
Matt Hansen at the Omaha World Herald reported over the weekend that civilian users will benefit "because the project will make it less likely they'll lose a signal and scream helplessly at their Garmin while driving in downtown Chicago or through the Rocky Mountains." The satellites are being moved by the Air Force Strategic Command (Stratcom), which expects the task to take no longer than four months. More information can be found here. When the satellites are moved, there will be better connections and even more accuracy. Commercial users are expected to benefit -- surveyors will have precise property lines for real estate. Firemen and police will have improved locations for 911 calls on cell phones.
David Guckman, an Air Force colonel at the Space Command, said the military's
GPS program has been a navigational marvel: "This is a free service to the world . . . to billions of civilians around the world."