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  • Writer's pictureDAVID MITLYNG

Weekly Takeaways-April 26,2022

Theme of the Week

GPS Keeps the Lights On When most people think of GPS, they think of maps. Despite this perception, the real trillion-dollar benefit of GPS is as the clock for the world. Without that timing ATMs and credit card transactions would fail and communications would cease. Within a few days, the power would go out. It may be hard to believe that timing from GPS plays a critical role in keeping our power grids functioning. Modern power grids are transforming from passive (large power plants, centralized operations, one-way flow) to active (decentralized, bi-directional flows) architectures. "As a result of that, the active ecosystem requires tighter data timestamping accuracy." Unfortunately, this reliance on timing from GPS is a single point of failure for our nation’s power supply. This has been flagged in reports from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and has motivated the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish the Center for Alternate Synchronization and Timing (CAST). CAST is an effort to develop "alternative precision timing services for the nation’s power grid" that "does not rely on weak, space-based GPS signals." An alternative timing solution is needed. Last Week's Theme: Evolution

Industry News


The More You Know...

The modern world relies GPS - but should there be a commercial alternative? GPS is designed and operated by the US Government (a bargain at only $1.5B a year) and made available for civilian use. In decades past all space assets, like GPS, were controlled by governments. But times have changed. Case in point:

  1. Commercial companies are providing crucial surveillance and communications for Ukraine, and even fending off electronic warfare attacks.

  2. The ISS is being mothballed in 2030 to be replaced by a commercial space station.

  3. NASA is now looking to retire TDRS and replace with commercial alternatives.

This doesn't mean that the government is giving up on space endeavors. It just means that they can focus on defense and scientific missions. Commercial users need a commercial system focused on their needs.


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