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post #7 of Old 05-19-2009
camaraderie's Avatar
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When in doubt...go to the source. The summary findings from the GAO:

It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in
time to maintain current GPS service without interruption. If not, some
military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected.
• In recent years, the Air Force has struggled to successfully build GPS
satellites within cost and schedule goals; it encountered significant
technical problems that still threaten its delivery schedule; and it
struggled with a different contractor. As a result, the current IIF
satellite program has overrun its original cost estimate by about $870
million and the launch of its first satellite has been delayed to
November 2009—almost 3 years late.
• Further, while the Air Force is structuring the new GPS IIIA program
to prevent mistakes made on the IIF program, the Air Force is aiming
to deploy the next generation of GPS satellites 3 years faster than the
IIF satellites. GAO’s analysis found that this schedule is optimistic,
given the program’s late start, past trends in space acquisitions, and
challenges facing the new contractor. Of particular concern is
leadership for GPS acquisition, as GAO and other studies have found
the lack of a single point of authority for space programs and frequent
turnover in program managers have hampered requirements setting,
funding stability, and resource allocation.
• If the Air Force does not meet its schedule goals for development of
GPS IIIA satellites, there will be an increased likelihood that in 2010,
as old satellites begin to fail, the overall GPS constellation will fall
below the number of satellites required to provide the level of GPS
service that the U.S. government commits to. Such a gap in capability
could have wide-ranging impacts on all GPS users, though there are
measures the Air Force and others can take to plan for and minimize
these impacts.
In addition to risks facing the acquisition of new GPS satellites, the Air Force
has not been fully successful in synchronizing the acquisition and
development of the next generation of GPS satellites with the ground control
and user equipment, thereby delaying the ability of military users to fully
utilize new GPS satellite capabilities. Diffuse leadership has been a
contributing factor, given that there is no single authority responsible for
synchronizing all procurements and fielding related to GPS, and funding has
been diverted from ground programs to pay for problems in the space
DOD and others involved in ensuring GPS can serve communities beyond the
military have taken prudent steps to manage requirements and coordinate
among the many organizations involved with GPS. However, GAO identified
challenges to ensuring civilian requirements and ensuring GPS compatibility
with other new, potentially competing global space-based positioning,
navigation, and timing systems.

Full Text Ducument of 65 pages here:
My take...fear mongering in the newspaper. Screw ups in the government. Needs attention or the GAO scenario...of LESS THAN OPTIMUM coverage has a 20% liklihood of happening. It WILL get that attention now.

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