Thoughts on GPS/GNSS from the CGSIC Meeting Held Earlier this Week

Discussion in 'Global Navigation Satellite Systems' started by Marcelo Pacheco, Aug 17, 2012.

    By: Eric Gakstatter

    4. Of the 12 Block IIF GPS satellites being built, two are in orbit with the first being launched in 2010 and the second one last year. A third is scheduled to launch later this year. That equates to one launch per year. Clearly, this pace cannot continue or it would be the year 2022 before all twelve were in orbit. What's the problem? Part of the problem is that the legacy Block IIA model satellites have performed so well. In fact, one has been operational for 22 years. That's an incredible feat for a satellite that was designed with an expected life of 7.5 years. Unfortunately for the IIF program (and the high-precision user community), it means that congress can defer a few hundred million dollars per year by delaying the IIF launches. In these budget-conscious economic times, it's not difficult to understand the reasoning that if there are 31 operational GPS satellites in orbit, why spend $150-200M to launch each GPS satellite when we don't need it yet? But, that won't last for long. The many legacy GPS satellites are one component failure away from being unusable. That said, the word at the CGSIC meeting is that three IIF satellites will be launched in 2013.

    Finally someone stops arguing that the launch segment is the bottleneck. The budget segment is the actual bottleneck !

    Three IIF launches in 2013 ? I will be extremely happy if we have one launch in 2013 followed by two in 2014 (perhaps 9 months between launches). Even that seems unlikely. Remember there's no hard commitment to having 31 healthy satellites. The soft commitment is 27. But I would be extremely happy to be wrong in this case. We'll see. The published long term plan has called for 3 yearly launches for a long long time, yet year after year we see that plan being changed one launch every 14 months + delays. If this expectation was true, a launch date for IIF-4 should have been floated already.

    It seems like GPS system operators are now able to antecipate the pre-failure behavior of GPS satellites subsystems with wide margins (perhaps 12 months or more advance notice).

    Another way to look at it is if all IIAs were offline tomorrow, there will still be 21 healthy satellites today, 22 after IIF-3 is operational. With IIF-3 + SVN49 the total would be 23. Even an optimal triple failure (one failure from each pair of IIAs) would still leave the constellation serving uswell, then we'd actually have a single string risk.

    An article was published in response to the OMB "GPS armageddon" scenario that predicts IIR satellites will live even longer than IIA.

    I would say we are just one launch behind an 99.9999% probability of staying with 30/31 healhy satellites (31 except for the ocasional DeltaV/MX/unexpected downtime). As much as many of us would like to see a normal launch frequency, any objetive analysis will confirm we'd be shutting down perfectlygood birds.

    With just 3 more launches, there would be 28 or more birds with a good Rb clock, and the worst case

    The focus should be working with SpaceX to have their Falcon9 rocket launch2 or 3 GPS birds at once. Over the next 6 months they should have 2-3 Falcon9 launches plus one Falcon Heavy demo launch, truly proving they're readyto cary ultra expensive military birds. A single triple launch after the currently planned IIF-3 would put the constellation in perfect shape for many years (25 IIR or better healthy birds).

    Marcelo Pacheco
    Marcelo Pacheco, Aug 17, 2012
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  2. Marcelo Pacheco

    Alan Browne Guest

    So easy to spend US taxpayer dollars from Brazil I suppose.
    Alan Browne, Aug 30, 2012
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  3. Marcelo Pacheco

    marcelo Guest

    Say's the Canadian in the list... But seriously.

    Every passing year the world has less borders. Get used to it !

    Gene Roddenbery predicted sometime perhaps in the 21st century, we'll stop having national governments as we know them. But instead of alien contact, it might take a serious worldwide polution from China and some other countries, a serious glacier meltdown, tens of millions of people dead or starving. If you don't know, China is burning coal like there's no tomorrow. We can either keep being ostridges with our heads buried in a whole of start writing about serious things that are wrong.

    The last criticism seemed to actually bother the Brazilian Federal government came from FIFA (world soccer federation), about the abundance of construction projects for the 2014 world soccer cup (hosted by Brazil) with massive schedule problems, our local criticism doesn't seem to bother them much. 90% of our population seem to accept their lies quietly. Perhaps 70% of theamericans quietly accept the USA govt lies. I mean, being a member of the Tea Party doesn't actually solve anything, because they don't give and take, its their way or else ! 10000 US citizen critics like me might actually generate billions of US$ in yearly savings. You need to disprove every wasteful project, every unnecessary or overpriced expenditure by the government.

    One day maybe an american GPS user will say thanks to me.

    This isn't about hurting anyones ego ! I don't expect any praise, however this seems to be the FIRST time an officer from USAF gave acceptance that the past GPS launch schedule plan has been a mockery. I give myself praise for making a diference at least in one of their presentations, now lets see if the promisse that three GPS launches will happen next year will actually happen. I'll be very happy with 3 launches in the next 18 months or so (including the one 5 weeks from now).

    Try to find any public questioning about that fad of a schedule anywhere else !

    I did something positive.

    I urge you to look all over the world for ways you can make the world better, instead of keeping everyones egoes intact.

    This is serious.

    Only facts disproving me will get me to stop.

    One of the greatest mistakes of democracies is actually trying to cater to taxpayers egos. Their actual egos must be ignored. As an example, this prevents education reform (both there and here). Taxpayer egos don't have the stomach to see incompetent teachers and other bad govt employees fired. The biggest problems with govt work is low productivity. Most programs shouldn't be cancelled, what you need is private sector like management, that is willing to fire the rotten apples that prevents the other from doing good work and giving some kicks in the butts of the ones that can be saved.

    Marcelo Pacheco
    marcelo, Aug 31, 2012
  4. As I was not able to access the article
    which Marcelo referenced due to multiple server errors, I
    will confine my comments to Mr. Browne's (pejorative
    adjective deleted) response.

    Your response is a "non sequitur"!
    According to *YOU*, he summarized the article as saying that
    the 'problem' was "financial" rather than "technical".

    Just how does that equate to a presumably foreign national
    demanding that US taxpayers spend their money faster? ?? ???
    Richard Owlett, Aug 31, 2012
  5. Marcelo Pacheco

    Alan Browne Guest

    So the US should come to Brazil and collect GPS infrastructure tax.

    Got it!
    Alan Browne, Aug 31, 2012
  6. Marcelo Pacheco

    Alan Browne Guest

    If you've been around here before you'll know that all that Marcelo does
    is pine for all possible future satellites (better, more accurate, more
    signals, etc) to be launched as soon as possible - that being now, now,
    now (and not according to the well planned, reasonably managed (and very
    expensive) GPS system schedule. A schedule that not only looks at the
    GPS system status but also launch vehicle builds and launch facility
    availabilty out for the next near 10 years).

    Of course he's from Brazil and (like me in Canada) he enjoys the
    largesse of the US taxpayer without paying a single cent for it.

    Thank you Ronald Reagan. Of course that gift from the US has rewarded
    thousands of companies in myriad ways (including heaps of profit of
    which not a single penny goes to the US government).

    The aforementioned article used the phrases { In these budget-conscious
    economic times, it's not difficult to understand the reasoning that if
    there are 31 operational GPS satellites in orbit, why spend $150-200M to
    launch each GPS satellite when we don't need it yet? }

    This flies over Marcelo's head every time even though it's been pointed
    out to him every time that budgets are actual, real things - even in the
    US government.

    So when he writes (as he did) I reply about how easy it is for him to
    spend the US taxpayers dollar. I'm not being mean or vindictive, just
    pointing out to him that the Golden rule always applies.

    Perhaps he'd vollunteer $100 or so every year?
    Alan Browne, Aug 31, 2012
  7. Marcelo Pacheco

    marcelo Guest

    The US state dept is always criticizing Syria, Cuba, North Korea, China, Russia and many other countries in many ways. That doesn't mean they get to force them to change anything. BTW, I agree with 99% of that criticism, but the point is, nobody penalizes the US economically or military for criticizing.

    I'm not demanding anything. I'm rather sugesting the many governments in the world stop paying lip service to the users of their services, stop hidingthe weak spots, the drawbacks of each program. GPS is just one program I care to use as an example. I don't even use GPS even on a monthly basis, since I'm not flying for many years now (except as an airline pax, and even that just a dozen times / year).

    Throughout my criticism, I focused mainly on the major mismatch between theGPS / USAF publicly circulated schedules versus what they end up doing + small enhancements to the constellation arrangement that could be done at very little cost.

    99% of the military people involved on GPS should be proud of the work theyperform, it's just the 1% on the top that I'm trying to shame somewhat into changing. The decisions not taken happen at the general level and at the politicians on the top of the military chain.

    Many times I acknowledged the amazing accomplishments of keeping GPS satellites working around 3x their original planned mission time. This is nothingshort of amazing. However the very same amazing feat has been a big thorn in the GPS modernization schedule.

    Much of the US$ 200 million cost for each GPS launch is consequence of porkbarrel politics, congressional/armed forces lobby by defense contractors, and overral lack of incentives to save money in their operations. Programs don't need to be cancelled in general, instead contracts need to be renegociated, cancelling line items, should purge waste, but still accomplish the same main goals. Take as an example, the huge disparity from ULA launch costs and SpaceX launch costs (with SpaceX delivering about 80% reduction in price per ton delivered in orbit). This is emblematic of pork barrel / lack of serious performance incentives on public works in general. SpaceX has inovated more in 3 years on launch technology / costs than boeing/lockheed martin/... has in the prior 30 years. "rockets haven't evolved much since the1970s" Elon Musk.

    There are still cold war mentality burnt into the minds of most military personnel. That mentality that costs don't matter, we must win the USSR at any cost. That plays right into the hands of defense contractors profits.

    If you all could just forget about national borders and visualize that the benefits will mainly be for northern hemisphere aviation (for instance brazil doesn't have SBAS, GBAS, place large limits on utilization of GPS for safety of life applications).

    BTW Alan, the problem in Brazil isn't tax revenue collections, the problem is mainly on the expenditure side. The Federal government has been circulating the rumour its close to being able to end the need for any tax returns,it will be able to simply tell you how much you owe / will be refunded without any forms ! In many ways, Brazil's federalized government is able to do many things US's state centered govt might never achieve due to intra state borders.

    At the same time we have a grossly corrupt judiciary and poorly written laws that keep letting politicians that robbed us in the billions get free. Federal police (our FBI) keeps putting rotten politicians in jail, and the federal attorney / judges can't get a conviction. But in the last year, some politicians that amassed tens of billions of US$ in assets had not only their own properties blocked, but also one generation up/down, forcing them tostrike deals with the prosecution. One such bad apple has US$ 10 billion in assets and will have to refund US$ 250 million in cash just to have a partial unblocking of his assets.

    I would be all for getting a hundred hard line FBI agents / management to come here and purge our judiciary of all the rotten judges !

    A US$ 100 check for the US GPS system, I'd do that in a heartbeat, if I knew a million other people would contribute the same, that would be money much better spent than the almost 50% taxes utility companies must charge their users / 60% taxes on petrol. I was a minority partner and technical director of a small telecom company here, and one of my unwritten tasks was making financial business plans for the products we put on the market. 30% taxes we pay even if we're loosing money, since they're paid on gross receipts,in order to have 10% free cash flow, 45% of our revenues are paid in taxes, and that doesn't even include payroll taxes.

    You see, I don't criticize the US because I hate America. I criticize GPS because it's a good thing that needs improvement. You can look at the glass half full or half empty. I guess we're all looking at it half empty.

    Marcelo Pacheco
    not so proud of being Brazilian !
    marcelo, Sep 1, 2012
  8. Marcelo Pacheco

    Alan Browne Guest

    Stop going off on tangents.

    Issue: The US pays for and maintains the GPS system entirely with US
    taxpayer money.

    Issue: They decide at what pace to spend it and how to manage the
    whole which is, by the way, a lot more than just building the satellites

    Issue: You have no standing as you are a Brazilian.
    Brazil has made great progress over the past 20 years and has nothing to
    be ashamed of and nor should you.
    Alan Browne, Sep 1, 2012
  9. The usenet is a worldwide, democratic discussion board.
    As such I will continue to advocate my opinions as I see fit, since I'm notspreading any lies nor am I trying to smear anyone that doesn't rightly deserve it. If you knew all the truth about everything, you'd quickly take back the "US taxpayer money" argument.

    I don't care about national borders. But if I cared, here's one counter point on the "Brazil didn't paid for GPS argument":

    US/European corporations are responsible for preventing Brazil from having a decent railroad system. GM/Ford/VW said they wouldn't open car factories in Brazil unless Brazil's government left the old railroad system to rotten.. This was in the 1960s, and its just one of dozens of ways I could attack the USA as the root of all evil in the world. However I know that 99.9% americans had no part in all those situations, but the fact remains, just as Europe is mainly responsible for sub development in Africa and the Middle East, inciting war, helping dictatorships, suppling weapons and so on. Sure, you could say we could have done it without them, but that would be reinventing the wheel. Just look at the crappy cars the Soviet Union when it disintegrated.
    Sure they do. Their decisions are a result of the US executive and legislative process. However that doesn't mean I can't criticize it. AFAIK, as longas I'm honest about it, I'll continue to do so, in my discretion.

    AFAIK, I have also managed to make tiny changes to that process, which onlyencourages me to do more, in the time of my choosing.
    See above about national borders.
    The internet and usenet isn't USA only or north america only.
    My tangents are a result of your attack on "not having a standing of cricising anything I haven't paid for", as many times as necessary. I'm a persistent equal oportunity criticizer (you may say bastard).
    Even though I'm not a professional reporter, even amateur reporters have free speech on their side.
    Which part of FREE SPEECH don't you get ?
    Another "feel good" attitude aparently Canadians share with Americans.
    We Brazilians are a bunch of self deprecating people, always ready to crackjokes in social settings. There's an old saying "I'll loose a friend, but I won't loose a joke !"

    "God created the earth and put earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, frigid snow, deserts, deadly mountainous terrain here and there, one of gods aids asked pointing to Brasil's land, why nothing bad here, then god answered, wait to see the little minded people I'll put here !"

    Marcelo Pacheco
    MarceloPacheco, Sep 2, 2012
  10. Marcelo Pacheco

    Alan Browne Guest

    Yes, and you can suggest what to do with the US owned, operated and paid
    for GPS system when you send in some money to the US government.

    I suggest $10 per line of suggestion that you write here, but really,
    they'll take all they can get at this point. The US is worse than broke.

    As to the railway thing, GM and the others did the same in most US
    cities (why there are so few tramways left).

    Brazil did get Ford plants set up (I found it amusing in 1992 to see a
    Ford Falcon, factory new, that looked identical to the one my father had
    in 1966...).

    As to Canada, God gave us the best country in the world to live in. But
    to remind us of out bounty he put the US to the south of us.
    Alan Browne, Sep 3, 2012
  11. Marcelo Pacheco

    C Guest

    GE (also, known as, General Electric, a US corporation) has been
    building locomotives in Brazil since the mid 1960's.
    This was done to sabotage the Brazilian economy during the time the US
    was bringing the Brazilian Railroads down?
    They probably were being built there to be close to the potential market.
    C, Sep 3, 2012
  12. Marcelo Pacheco

    marcelo Guest

    While the fact that GE produced locomotives in Brazil 40 years ago is true (and probably still does), it doesn't invalidate the core of my argument, off on a tangent, to reafirm my statement.

    Brazil has 10% of USA total railroad length, 20% of Russia total railroad length, but Brazil is larger than the lower 48 USA states, and about half aslarge as Russia.

    Even with that little railroad coverage, from 1970 to 2000, 85% of Brazil'srailroads were barely able to run traffic at 25mph, with no eletronic signalling, narrow rail lines, very poorly maintained rail lines (rail road maintenance is absolutely critical). Today, much of those rail lines are undergoing renovations, but that process started around 10 years ago. So my argument stands, after GM, Ford and Volkwagen came to Brazil in the 1960s, our rail roads were left to rotten (as a precondition for them coming here). About 5% of the little railroad coverage we had, was actually useable in a productive fashion (in cases where there was absolutely no option to abandon that particular railroad-it would kill minining, steel production, and serious increase grain transportation costs).

    Even today I'm unable to travel by rail between Brazil's two largest cities(São Paulo and Rio), which are closer than NYC to DC. Our crazy madam president wants to go from no useable rail line to a bullet train costing tens of billions of US$ (because there's more ways to steal taxpayer money with a pharaonic project instead of a results oriented/frugal project).

    This is the short version, if you still don't agree with me, before trying to rebut me, read the rest. Otherwise thanks for reading :)

    Railroads in Brazil worth anything in operation non-stop over the last 40 years are operated by Vale (NYSE: VALE.P) (the mining company) and perhaps an extra 2000miles of rail for purposes such as transporting steel to ports nearby, and in some major grain shipping routes. All of those together cover just a tiny area of Brazil.

    Even routes where great railroads are available, there is very little usageof railroads (and domestic sea transport) for general cargo, due to government intentional red tape (its even worse with ports). Of course there's also the truck/bus cartels that constantly pressures our DOT to minimize competition from railroads. While the Bus to Airline competition has essentially relegated busses as the spokes between major cities and smaller nearby ones, I personally know people that tried to start small rail passenger service, on railroads that already existed, with trains that already carry cargo, and our DOT turned them down cold !

    It just so happens my dad retired from Vale some 20 yrs ago. While he neverworked for one of Vale's railroad business areas, he to just below the executive board of the company, so as a kid I got to travel up and down those railroads in the company of the same managers in charge of operating and maintaining them, also talk to all directors and business unit heads and managers, the information I'm telling you I heard from railroad professionals that worked their entire carrers from an engineer installing/maintaing/operating Vale's railroads (two of them were next door neighbors for many years).. While Vale's railroads could handle 100 million+ tons/year each, with trains running at speeds only limited by fuel economy and up/down gradients, the other railroads in brazil were barely able to run rail traffic at 25mph in a straight and level segment, and had only a tiny fraction of load capacity due all kinds of characteristics typical of world war II era equipment.So if a railroad that is at least 40 years out of date isn't a rotten railroad, I'm Mickey Mouse ! And I also triple checked that information over myhigh school time (25 yrs ago) with multiple geography teachers, geography textbooks, and obviously google recently.

    Just to show that GM has done some really rotten acts in the past, lookup the fact that GM, Standard Oil, Mack Trucks, Firestone Tire and Philips Petroleum managed to kill Street Cars and urban Electric Trains in the 1930s inthe USA. And that GM was convicted in 1949 for cartel over bus prices.
    google "general motors" 1949 cartel

    PS: Stop trying to be "Americans", we're all citizens of the world. Nothingof this is focused on making America look bad. I just refuse to do "feel good" diplomacy, that accomplishes nothing practical. I'm trying to show youthat I can draw 10x more criticism over Brazil, but we don't have a space program worth much of anything to criticize about ! Anyways, I paid US$ 200k worth of US taxes in the 7 yrs I lived in the USA legally, so I'm not a free loader of the GPS system at all.

    Marcelo Pacheco
    marcelo, Sep 3, 2012
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