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Summary and Comments

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1997-01-31 00:00:00


U.S. Navy's Global Positioning System



I have posted this elsewhere on my site. I want to make sure you see it. It tells us that the government's computers cannot be trusted.

The U.S. Navy's Global Positioning System is going to go off its rocker on August 22, 1999. Already, the Navy is shifting responsibility to users. Think about trucking. The whole industry relies on the GPS.

Yes, products can be re-designed . . . at a price. But the fact that this problem exists is a bad sign. The Year 2000 problem is vastly more complicated than the GPS Rollover repair.

Here is a summary of what is involved, taken from Peter de Jager's Year 2000 discussion forum. (See also the postings under Military and Banking on the GPS rollover.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Date: Fri, 25 Apr 1997 14:05:26 +0100 To: From: Mike Powell Subject: re: GPS

With reference to Global Positioning Systems (GPS), the following article was sighted in the 'New Scientist,' dated 10th August 1996.

"The Year 2000 is coming early to navigation devices that rely on signals from Global Postioning System satellites to pinpoint their position. But their owners will have little to celebrate, as the change could send their receivers haywire.

"The internal clocks of GPS receivers are all set as if time began at midnight on the 5th January 1980, and are due to reset themselves after 20 years. Ther binary counters that were used to keep the systems cheap and simple count 20 years as 2 (to the power 10) weeks or 7168 days. So as the receivers are concerned, the roll over to the next century will occur at midnight on the 21st August 1999 - more than 130 days early.

"Dates and times are important to the GPS receivers used on planes and ships because they work out their position by comparing the time generated by an internal clock with the times received from the fllet of 21 GPS satellites. The difference between the times allows the receiver to work out how far away the spacecraft are and hence its own location. If the time and date generated by receivers are wrong, their position estimates will end up wildly inaccurate.

"A spokesman for GEC Plessey, which makes GPS receivers, says it is hard to predict how individual brands of receiver will be affected by the roll-over, because each manufacturer uses its own software. Fixing the bug will be especially difficult in older receivers that store their programs in custom-built chips. But he says planes and ships that use GPS to navigate around the globe are unlikely to driven off course: 'GPS is rarely used as the sole means of navigation.'"

I hope this is helpful and I believe that statements have been made relating to upgrading of software but I have no written examples.

As a last thought, what other methods of navigation could a pilot use: maybe a sextant or the position of the stars or even a road-map!!

Mike Powell


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