GPS World’s seventh annual Leadership Dinner, which took place during the ION-GNSS conference in Portland, Oregon, and was sponsored by Rockwell Collins, this year honored some of the surviving GPS Heroes (see May and June 2010 issues). PLUS: We invited 120 dinner guests to find out by walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, in the Grand Game of GNSS, a role-playing and negotiation exercise. Learn who won!
Recognition for the GPS Heroes
Leadership Dinner Speech by Brad Parkinson
Good evening. It is good to see you all. Particularly it is wonderful to see some of the surviving heroes of the Phase One Brotherhood who helped make GPS possible against desperate odds. We came together in 1972, and by 1978 had proven the dream. We could not fail. It is now hard to believe that it started 38 years ago.
Would the Phase One Heroes please stand and be recognized?
Engineers are usually destined to be forgotten. I wrote the two articles that many of you have seen in an attempt to remember the wonderful officers, aerospace engineers, and supporting contractors who made GPS a reality. All of you were needed.
I want to acknowledge my co-author, Steve Powers, my roommate as a midshipman back at the the Naval Academy and now a professional historian, for his help.
Unfortunately, both memory and space limited the numbers of early contributors to whom I could give credit. Alan Cameron has been extremely
helpful in publishing those articles and helping compile a list of the heroes. I would urge you to scratch your heads and add to the list of names.
And thanks to GPS World for this great dinner and gathering.
We could foresee many of the early uses of GPS. But we could not foresee hundreds of other uses. Perhaps most astonishing, the best GPS receivers now routinely resolve position in real time with accuracies better than a centimeter. This has opened up a whole new world of robotic control and tracking. It is a credit to the engineers who succeeded us and invented the techniques of real-time kinematic positioning.
The burden for maintaining and improving GPS has now been passed to yet another generation of leadership. I am particularly pleased that the JPO Director, or GPS Wing Commander, Colonel Bernie Gruber is here this evening. He is a worthy successor to the many fine program directors that GPS has had since I retired in 1978. He will have his hands full with keeping the torch lit, in particular with maintaining the size of the GPS constellation to ensure its availability for all users.
Bernie, we are very pleased to see you back with the GPS brotherhood. For those who are not aware of it, Bernie served in the user equipment area of GPS about 18 years ago. He certainly qualifies as a veteran of this program.
I propose three toasts:
- To those who are now carrying the burden of GPS: the Joint Program Office, Aerospace, and the supporting contractors.
- To those still alive who could not be here but who were the brotherhood of heroes who started it all, from 1972 to 1978.
- Last, to those who are now dead, and gave so much to make GPS possible. The names of those that I know who are no longer with us: Mel Birnbaum, Val Denninger, Ivan Getting, Don Henderson, Gary Hahn, Ernst Jechart, Ken Schultz, Werner Weidemann, and Jack Barry.
If you know of others who have passed away, please tell me or e-mail me.
I would like to close with a paraphrase from Shakespeare: Henry V’s speech just prior to the Battle of Agincourt.
And a New Year shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
When we in it, we engineers shall be
But we few, we band of brothers,
We shall remember that brotherhood and the sacrifices we all made.
For he that stood with me,
He that labored with us in the desperate early days of the GPS,
Shall be our brother.
Thank you all.
GPS World magazine and dinner sponsor Rockwell Collins, represented by Gary McGraw, then joined Dr. Parkinson to present small mementoes to these attending GPS Heroes:
- Hugo Fruehauf, chief engineer at Rockwell International for design and development of the first GPS satellites, whose oversight was essential to producing the first GPS atomic clocks;
- Gaylord Green, the first officer then-Colonel Parkinson brought onboard the new Joint Program Office, and who succeeded him as a JPO director several years later;
- Ed Lassiter, who had extensive space-flight experience and led the early Aerospace contingent of engineers working on the system;
- Ed Martin, who made significant contributions, collaborating on the early, important decision that the carrier, code, and data of the GPS signal would all be phase-coherent;
- Brad Parkinson, first GPS JPO director;
- Tom Stansell, a Transit expert who helped design the first GPS civil receivers at Magnavox;
- Joe Strada, a key leader in the extensive test program, developing test environment and analysis setup;
- AJ Van Dierendonck, who helped define GPS time and developed a modified Kalman filter for near-real-time orbital prediction;
- Chuck Wheatley of Rockwell’s Autonetics Division, part of a team that built a space-qualified clock for the first GPS launch, February 1978.
- Phil Ward, developer of Texas Instruments’ TI-140, an early commercial high-precision receiver;
- Paul Weber, GPS JPO deputy program manager from the U.S. Army.
The Grand Game of GNSS
How difficult can it be to build a satellite system, sustain an industry, or equip users? We invited 120 dinner guests to find out by walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, in the Grand Game of GNSS, a role-playing and negotiation exercise. Twelve teams represented system operators, industries, and user groups from the United States, Russia, Europe, and China. Operators and Users had money. Industries had satellites and receivers. Each wanted what the other had. For rules and results see www.gpsworld.com/wideawake.