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GPS Modernisation Programme

One of the new GPS III satellites

I recently stumbled across the US Government’s website for GPS and was thoroughly impressed. ┬áThere is loads of information there about how GPS works and how they bring it all together. It is well worth having a browse around it you have a few minutes.

What interested me the most on the site was the section on the modernisation of the GPS programme.

This programme is an ongoing, multibillion-dollar effort to improve and upgrade the GPS system and organisation with new features to improve GPS performance. These features include new civilian and military signals.

The GPS modernization program involves a series of consecutive satellite acquisitions, including GPS IIR(M), GPS IIF, and GPS III. It also involves improvements to the GPS control segment, including the Architecture Evolution Plan (AEP) and the Advanced Control Segment (OCX).

Probably of greatest interest to geocachers is the fourth civilian GPS signal that the GPS III satellites will bring:

L1C is the fourth civilian GPS signal, designed to enable interoperability between GPS and international satellite navigation systems.

L1C features a Multiplexed Binary Offset Carrier (MBOC) modulation scheme that enables international cooperation while protecting U.S. national security interests. The design will improve mobile GPS reception in cities and other challenging environments.

So it looks like the performance of mobile phone GPS units will only continue to improve. However, you’ll have to wait until 2024 until this signal becomes available!

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