In a world where precise navigation is integral to our daily lives, NextNav recognizes the indispensable role that Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) play in shaping the modern world. GNSS provides positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) – underpinning so much of the critical infrastructure industries of the world, including financial transactions, communications, utilities, emergency response, and even agriculture – to name a few. That’s why we are pleased to celebrate “International GNSS Day”, established by our friends at The Institute of Navigation (ION.) This day, celebrated annually on the 23rd of October, marks a significant milestone in GNSS history and serves as a tribute to the developers of GPS, celebrating 50 years since its inception this year.
The date, written as “10/23”, symbolizes the frequency of 10.23 MHz, the original heartbeat of all GPS satellites, signals, and receivers, or “chipping rate”. Each signal transmits at 511,500 chips per second (chip/s), but are multiplexed together to form a 1,023,000-chip/s signal – thus, the “10/23” date.
A look at GNSS milestones:
1973: GPS Birth- The GPS project was started by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1973, with the first prototype spacecrafts launched in 1978 – initially for military use.
1993: GPS Fully Operational– The Global Positioning System (GPS), initiated by the United States Department of Defense, became fully operational in 1993. It was a monumental moment in GNSS history, and the system now boasts a constellation of over 30 satellites providing worldwide coverage.
1995: GLONASS – The Russian Federation’s GLONASS system, fully operational by 1995, stands as one of the most prominent GNSS alternatives to GPS. With its 24 satellites, it provides global coverage.
2016: Galileo Takes Flight – The European Union’s Galileo system, which went live in 2016, has expanded the constellation to 30 satellites and is operated by the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), enhancing the world’s GNSS capability.
2020: China’s BeiDou – China’s BeiDou system, launched in 2000, evolved into a global GNSS network by 2020, supporting positioning and timing services for a wide range of applications.
2023: Today the frequency of 10.23 MHz is the foundation for L-band signals used by over 100 navigation satellites worldwide.
While GNSS technologies are incredible achievements, it’s essential to recognize that they were created 50 years ago. Our reliance on a consistent PNT solution cannot be understated. In a rapidly changing world, a resilient layer to GPS and GNSS, like NextNav’s TerraPoiNT, becomes crucial for our safety, critical infrastructure and more.
TerraPoiNT is a terrestrial 3D PNT technology that provides a robust and resilient layer to GNSS and GPS. It enhances the precision and resilience of positioning and timing data, particularly in urban canyons and indoor spaces, where traditional GNSS signals can be compromised. Further, it ensures PNT services when there is interference from jamming, spoofing, or solar weather. Reliable, precise PNT services are essential in applications like public safety, emergency services, and critical infrastructure.
ION’s proclamation of this day fosters awareness and appreciation for the critical role GNSS plays in our interconnected world. As we commemorate this day, we encourage others to continue to share their knowledge and learnings about the role GNSS / GPS signals play in our lives, and inspire future innovations for PNT. At NextNav, we will continue to work to build upon this incredible technology to ensure PNT resiliency now and in the future.