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  • Writer's pictureDAVID MITLYNG

Weekly Takeaways-February 13,2023

Theme of the Week


The Year That Was...Once again we look back at notable events from the year past. Happy 50th Birthday GPS! What started out as an experiment in 1973 “to drop five bombs in the same hole” turned into a critical part of our modern life, spawning $2 trillion dollars of economic benefit andover 700 companies. It is now the most critical of all critical infrastructure, providing the ticking heartbeat for all the world's airlines, networks, data centers, power grids, and financial transactions.But that omnipresence is also a problem. 2023 was deemed the "The Year of GPS Jamming and Spoofing," as shown in this time-lapse video of GPS jamming (mostly traced to Russia) that led to grounded flights across Europe. The vulnerabilities of GPS and other satellites led to alarming reports from the Wall Street Journal, US DOD, US Department of Homeland Security, US Government Accountability Office, US Director of National IntelligenceUS State DepartmentEuropean Commission, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Secure World FoundationHarvard, and the Aerospace Corporation.The Children of GPSThese concerns are spurring a new movement towards independence from GPS.China continued to expand on their ambitious plans to launch a competing network consisting of:

  • BeiDou constellation of 42 satellites with optical links, two-way time transfer, and Global Short Message Communication and Search-and-Rescue Services

  • A “High-Precision Ground-Based Timing System” consisting of 295 sites distributing timing through 20,000 km fiber network

  • Plans to add a 120-satellite low earth orbit (LEO) constellation, Loran-C, inertial sensors, and quantum navigation.

In October the UK announced they were setting up a dedicated National PNT Office, and other countries are developing their own GPS alternatives, including Russia's GLONASS, Europe's Galileo, Japan's QZSS, Korea's KASS, and India's IRNSS.The Dark Side of AIArtificial Intelligence (AI) was big news in 2023, and opinions are mixed on whether its ability to generate articles, software, musicartworkactors, and even companionship is a good thing or a bad thing. But there is one concern that is indusputable: AI's role in increasing carbon emissions from vast data centers that consume more power and water for cooling.It may seem non-intuitive, but we can offset this by offering better timing. Meta and NVIDIA found that a 80x synchronization improvement made distributed databases run 3x faster - "an incredible performance boost on the same server hardware, just from keeping more accurate and more reliable time."The New Space Race2023 was also a big year for space achievements as we approach a decade that saw the birth of 1800 new space companies and launch prices dropping from $50,000 to $500 per kilogram:

2023 also saw the lunar space race accelerating with attempts to land on the moon:

  • April - Hakuto-R, the lunar lander for ispace, a private lunar exploration company, orbited the moon before attempting an unsuccessful landing.

  • August - Luna-25, a Russian spacecraft, reached lunar orbit but suffered an “emergency situation” while attempting to land on the moon.

  • August - Vikram, the lander for India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission, reached the surface of the moon but was lost.

  • October - SLIM, the JAXA lunar lander, arrived at the moon before attempting a landing last month.

Development continues on other missions this year, as well as NASA's Artemis missions, Europe's lunar lander, and China's ambitious plans that include the Queqiao-2 lunar communications relay satellite (2024), Chang'e 6 mission (2024), Tiandu-1 and Tiandu-2 navigation and communications satellites (2024), Chang'e 7 mission (2026), Chang'e 8 mission (2028) and International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) (2030s).The Acceleration of Quantum Investment2023 also saw heightened interest in the value of quantum technologies, which the World Economic Forum (WEF) believes "will exponentially accelerate the Fourth Industrial Revolution" but worries will create a quantum divide. This spurred countries to accelerate their investment in quantum or risk falling behind:

The Sun is Getting More ActiveWe got some amazing views of northern lights and sunspots in 2023 as solar activity picked up ahead of the upcoming solar maximum, which the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believes “will be earlier, stronger and last longer" than originally predicted. This is causing concern about coronal mass ejections and other solar storms that could "seriously damage parts of our power-distribution infrastructure," and impact "electrical grids, GPS signals, drag satellites out of orbit and pose a radiation risk to airline workers and astronauts.


"Last Week's Theme: The Big 5-0


Achievements

2023 was a big year for our team as we commercialize our quantum timing technology invented only five years ago. Some highlights:


Stay tuned for our next Investor Session planned for Thursday, February 29 at 5 pm ET! Webinar registration details coming soon.

 

Conferences


The More You Know...

When GPS hit the half-century mark, the original architects recounted how their initial concepts blossomed into something foundational to our modern lives. From their oral histories emerged a three-part story of the hurdles they had to overcome.Part 1: The TechnologyThe first part of this story was the technology challenges they had to overcome in the analog world of 1973, an era of transistor radios, 8-track tapes, and CB radios, when communications satellites were still a novelty. The team had to develop pretty much everything from scratch: the RF waveform, radiation-hardened satellites, clocks, receivers, and antennas. It took two decades before the system was operational, and today, the GPS constellation provide signals to 8 billion GPS receivers in the world – one for every person on Earth.Part 2: The CriticsThe second part of this story was the internal obstacles the team faced. When GPS was first sketched out in the famous Lonely Halls meeting over Labor Day 1973, the main goal was simple: "to drop five bombs in the same hole." We tend to mythologize that meeting, and the hard work of those original pioneers, but it is important to recognize the second part of this story: they had to overcome a lot of internal resistance. They put their careers at risk to change the leadership mindset from “We don’t need it” to “We can’t live without it”.Part 3: The Unexpected SuccessThe third part of this story is the rise of GPS as critical commercial infrastructure, which is remarkable for one simple reason: that is not the role of the US military. GPS originally was intended only for military use, until three key events:

  • September 1, 1983, the downing of a Korean Air Lines flight by Soviet missiles after drifting into prohibited airspace.

  • The rise of digital networks in the early 1990s that required a timing signal for synchronization.

  • May 1, 2000, when the intentional degradation of the GPS signal for civilian users was turned off.

These events opened GPS up to the wider world, making modern society over-dependent on a fragile signal that is 1,000× weaker than your typical cell signal. Even the father of GPS worries that "most significant impact is also probably the most perilous: kids today just take it for granted."

 

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