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  • Writer's pictureDAVID MITLYNG

Weekly Takeaways-September 28,2022

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Theme of the Week

Scrubbed Once again the Artemis 1 moon mission is delayed and likely won’t launch this year. Even without a Category 4 hurricane, Artemis was supposed to launch in August. In that time they scrubbed three times while SpaceX has launched six times in Florida alone. Oh, Artemis. You never had a chance, not with such overprotective and risk-averse parents. Same with GPS. GPS satellites cost over $350M with nearly decade-long delivery schedules. A commercial company could launch multiple successive generations with that. But despite the $4.1B total price tag there are still vulnerability concerns. And the improvements are all geared towards military users; commercial time and position accuracy hasn’t changed in decades. Government agencies simply aren’t known for innovation, speed, and efficiency. Something better is needed. Last Week's Theme: Going Nowhere Fast

Industry News

  • On January 21, 2022, Air Traffic Control issued a Notice to Airman “of problems with GPS reception spanning about 8,000 square miles in the Denver area,” including interference around Denver International Airport impacting aircraft from the ground up to 40,000 feet above sea level. So what happened? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigation will be released in an upcoming report “GPS Interference Happens,” and has so far announced:

    • “the incident lasted for 33.5 hours

    • impacts varied across infrastructures and applications; some users who were physically shielded from the interference source were able to maintain service

    • some wireline and cellular providers who had timing backup systems were unaffected

    • wireline and cellular providers with no backups suffered, as did some with rubidium backup clocks; the clocks drifted away from each other over the course of the outage and caused cell towers to isolate.”

  • In response to Russia’s cyber disruptions of satellite service in Ukraine, Europe announced that they are looking to strengthen their space resilience.

  • Starlink helped provide critical communications into Ukraine, and now are looking to provide connectivity for Iran after authorities shut down the internet.

  • The US Senate unanimously passed a three-year re-authorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, so now the resolution goes to the US House of Representatives.


The More You Know...

One comment we hear a lot: “Isn't GPS good enough? All networks and power grids rely on timing from GPS; if it ever went down, the damage could be catastrophic. How bad? On January 26, 2016, we almost found out. The US spends nearly $2B a year to ensure that the catastrophic doesn’t happen. But radiation hardening and on-orbit spares can’t protect against local jamming and interference. There are over 100,000 outages reported a year in Europe alone. Jamming in Eastern Europe impacted flights out of Finland, and a recent mysterious case impacted flights out of Denver International Airport. But it remains a nice juicy target for adversaries. Because of this, many countries have already started their own sovereign GPS replacements. But what is less known: there is now a movement for GPS-independent national resilient timing systems.


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