The Global Positioning System, a technology invented in U.S. military laboratories, revolutionized war-fighting weapons, tactics and strategy. Contrary to common misconceptions, GPS development envisioned non-military uses from the start. Our deployment of GPS has driven other nations to invest large sums in competing worldwide systems and regional augmentation systems. GPS technology has permeated numerous commercial, scientific and civilian domains, delivering precise positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) for activities from transportation to banking to social media. Its global impact today is broader and deeper than most people realize, as GPS has become an unseen but critical component of modern infrastructure.
In this talk, Richard D. Easton and Eric F. Frazier, coauthors of GPS Declassified: From Smart Bombs to Smartphones, trace the development of GPS from its secret, Cold War roots to its emergence as a worldwide consumer industry and vital public utility.
SPY Historian Vince Houghton sat down with Richard Easton, co-author of GPS Declassified: From Smart Bombs to Smartphones, to discuss the development of GPS and its role in the military, intelligence, and civilian domains. Easton’s father, Roger, led the Space Applications Branch of the Naval Research Laboratory from the Vanguard Satellite era to the early days of GPS development. Listen to the entire podcast.
Richard Easton and Eric Frazier were recently invited by the National Security Space Institute (NSSI), located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., to speak to students and faculty.
The two-day visit included a 90-minute presentation, July 21, as part of the Space Professionals Speaker Series, hosted by Gen. John E. Hyten, Commander, Air Force Space Command.
The authors got a behind-the-scenes tour of the GPS ground control facility at nearby Schriever AFB and met more than a dozen of the over 100 members of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron, who keep the GPS constellation running smoothly 24/7.
Easton and Frazier presented their talk, “GPS: Military Asset, Public Utility,” five times in all, including to the space professionals community, to three classes of NSSI students from the United States and allies, and to a faculty gathering.
For two individuals who have devoted countless hours to researching the historical development of GPS, as well as its economic and sociological implications, Easton and Frazier consider it a rare treat to have the opportunity to meet the experts who manage GPS and see firsthand the facilities they operate.
View the entire talk at YouTube:
Richard Easton will present a talk, “Time Synchronization and the Origins of GPS,” at the forthcoming conference, The Science of Time, June 5-9, 2016, hosted by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge.
Richard is scheduled to speak Wednesday, June 8, at 10:45. His talk will focus on how the need to synchronize clocks at widely separated satellite tracking stations sparked the idea of placing highly accurate clocks, and eventually atomic frequency standards, aboard satellites. This led directly to the Global Positioning System, which enabled worldwide time synchronization.
Richard Easton will join Dr. Bleddyn E. Bowen as guests on The Space Show, hosted by Dr. David Livingston, on April 1, 2016, to discuss space history and space security strategy. Bowen is a Teaching Fellow in strategy, military history, and intelligence studies at the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, Wales.
Listen to the interview live from 9:30 a.m to 11 a.m. Pacific Time or by podcast later at the website:
The Space Review recently published Richard Easton’s article, “GPS origins myths as propounded by Stephen Johnson and Annie Jacobsen.” In the article, he lists a number of credibility-shattering errors found in two popular books that have received positive reviews and (unjustifiable) praise for their scholarship.
In most instances, a simple Google search and an hour or so of reading the results would have informed the writers that the two satellite systems they conflate–Transit and GPS–were developed by different entities at different times and used different technologies.
Public ignorance and misunderstanding about GPS is widespread. That might not matter much, if it were not a system that taxpayers spend around $1 billion a year to maintain and that has become a vital public utility around the planet. It is unfortunate that large publishers and media organizations unwittingly perpetuate errors and misunderstanding through lack of due diligence.
The recent article, “A Smart Bomb in Every Garage: Driverless Cars and the Future of Terrorist Attacks,” by Jeffrey Lewis, PhD, cites GPS Declassified. Lewis, a lecturer in International Studies at The Ohio State University, examines the threat of terrorists using self-driving cars to deliver car bombs. The article appears on The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) website.