GeoCarta Has Moved

Mar 18, 2007

Oldest GPS Satellite Ready for Retirement

The oldest operational satellite in the GPS constellation is being readied for disposal the U.S. Air Force reported yesterday. Built by Boeing, SVN-15 was launched on October 1, 1990. The satellite has broadcast its signal for over 16 years, more than twice its design life. "The operational clocks eventually couldn't maintain their signal within specs," Lt. Col. Kurt Kuntzelman said in explaining why the unit is being disposed of.

The life of SVN-15 has seen tremendous changes in the focus of GPS-based military programs, the Air Force notes. Even greater changes have occurred in the civilian field, where GPS applications have grown exponentially. Today, people use GPS for everything from navigation to financial applications, to golf:

"My father's an avid golfer," Colonel Kuntzelman said, smiling. "He gave me a call and told me he came up short with his 9-iron, and he tried to blame it on me for giving him the wrong GPS signal. He said it gave him the wrong yardage. Apparently it cost him a couple of bucks with his buddies."
See also: GPS III Bid Process About to Begin
Commerce Dept. Announces Plans For GPS Upgrade