Space Symposium, Partnership Council Offer Valuable Information

May 11, 2011  - By 0 Comments

As it happens April, May, and June are watershed months for space and PNT geeks every year. In April I was honored to attend the National Space Foundation sponsored 27th annual National Space Symposium held at the incomparable five-star Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and in May, just last week I attended the 10th annual GPS Partnership Council at SMC (Space and Missile Systems Center) in Los Angeles, California. Currently I am planning my strategy and greasing the chain on the mountain bike for the sixth annual Space and Cyberwarfare Symposium in the beautiful mountain village of Keystone, Colorado, which is followed later in June by the Joint Navigation Conference, also in Colorado Springs.  I know this is really an incredibly tough June schedule, but somehow I will manage.

Seriously, my purpose in telling you about these wonderful events is two-fold: number one, they are important events and number two, they are events you should attend if you are the least bit interested in space and especially PNT or GPS. All the events this year had/will have maximum time built in for networking with colleagues and businesses you may not come into contact with any other time during the year. You know that Executive VP for Space you have been trying to see for months? He or she will probably be attending one of these events. Take a shot.

National Space Symposium

The 27th National Space Symposium (NSS) just gets better and better every year. Yes, I know I say that every year, but it is true. I have had the honor of attending 24 of the symposiums and have witnessed phenomenal growth. This year there were more than 9,000 participants and yet it never really seemed crowded because the event encompasses the entire Broadmoor resort. There is so much happening that I will have to say this year, for the first time, I did not make it to all the events I planned. But I was able to network, and for a journalist as well as a business executive that is key. I see people at the Space Symposium every year that I never see at any other event probably because there is no other event in the world quite like it. The National Space Symposium is truly unique in its scope and venue and frankly this year I thought, also for the first time, that it could have easily continued for one more day. Then maybe I just might have been able to take in everything, albeit on the run. When you consider that a great many of the attendees start and end their NSS journey with trips to the nearby Rocky Mountain ski slopes, attendees and businesses would not really experience any more downtime due to the symposium adding an extra day, but hitting the slopes is sure is a great and unique way to start and end a business conference.

NSS Exhibits

There were more exhibitors this year than ever before, and some of the exhibits, especially the static displays, were phenomenal. For example, as I mentioned in my NSS blog in GPS World, on the first morning I was able to see and actually touch (before I saw the “Please Do Not Touch” sign, of course) the X-37B, the U.S. Air Force autonomous space vehicle. The USAF says the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, or OTV, is a non-operational system (an adjective conveying minimal veracity in my opinion) that demonstrates a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform. Indeed, on March 5, just five weeks before the 27th NSS, the USAF launched the second X-37B from Cape Canaveral, Florida.x-37b-W

The OTV-2 launch comes on the heels of the successful flight of OTV-1, which made an autonomous de-orbit and landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on December 3, 2010, after successfully logging 224 days in space, something for which the current NASA manned space shuttles were never designed  and are unable to accomplish. According to USAF officials, post-flight analysis of OTV-1 revealed OTV-2 needed no significant changes, and the second X-37B flight is aimed at helping Air Force scientists better evaluate and understand the vehicle’s performance characteristics and expand upon the tests from OTV-1.

The spacecraft measures more than 29 feet long and nine-and-a-half feet tall. Its wingspan is 14 feet, 11 inches, and it weighs approximately 11,000 pounds at launch. The objectives of the OTV program include space experimentation, risk reduction, and a concept of operations development for reusable space-vehicle technologies.
x-37BThe X-37B OTV is America’s newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft. Based on NASA’s X-37 design, the unmanned OTV is designed for vertical launch to low Earth orbit (LEO) altitudes where it can perform long-duration space technology experimentation and testing. Upon command from the ground, or as preprogrammed, the OTV autonomously re-enters the atmosphere, descends, and lands horizontally on a designated runway. The X-37B is the first vehicle since NASA’s Shuttle Orbiter with the ability to return experiments and surveillance sensors to Earth for further inspection and analysis.

The X-37B OTV is a military autonomous space vehicle, and that is where the excitement resides. It brings back memories, from around 1959, of the promised but unfulfilled capabilities of the early Boeing Dyna-Soar or X-20 (yes, I spelled it correctly) space and atmospheric skipping vehicle and, well… just use your imagination. Early estimates are the X-37B OTVs could actually stay on orbit for more than a year if necessary. That sounds like a real time, persistent space surveillance platform/sensor to me, just to name one option among a list of many valuable military missions. I suspect we will be hearing about many more amazing feats and record flights concerning the X-37B or not; and because I attended the NSS I actually got to see the real article up close and personal…that alone was worth the price of admission.

NSS Presentations

Certainly the presentations at the NSS are not to be missed, but you have to plan your time carefully since there is so much to see and do. Just roaming the halls of the multiple exhibition areas (four this year) is an education in itself, and you just never know who you are going to run into. Former and current astronauts abound, and senior officers from all services will freely stop and chat with you about the various exhibits and their pet programs. Treat them to beautifully hand scooped ice cream at AGI or a hot Italian Cappuccino at the LMCO booth and who knows what you may learn.

National Strategic Infrastructure versus LightSquared
480px-Gen_William_L_SheltonAs I mentioned in my NSS blog, the whole event, both the Cyber and the Space Symposiums, were kicked off by my old friend and colleague General William L. Shelton, the commander of Air Force Space Command. General Shelton tends not to be long winded — in other words, his
speeches are brief and to the point, and historically right on target. His presentations at the Cyber and Space symposiums were no exception.

General Shelton took on the new and emerging cyber threats, the future of space with a flat or declining national security space budget, and of course the imminent national GPS threat from LightSquared. As the steward of GPS and as a warfighter himself, General Shelton is the only four-star officer from any service that has manned up, stood tall, and been counted on the LightSquared issue, which is an ominous harbinger (pun intended) of a possibly disastrous future for our warfighters and first responders (see PDF report) — actually, it poses a threat for all GPS users in the U.S. The LightSquared debacle is led by a Luddite administration where no one has the guts to tell the commander-in-chief he has no clothes, or a clue for that matter, when it comes to military or first-responder PNT related technology. Just ask Seal Team Six how important GPS and all the capabilities that GPS enables was to their successful mission taking out Bin Laden. But of course this administration has a history of denying critical PNT-related support to the national strategic infrastructure. Just think back to the eLORAN fiasco, and now there is the LightSquared debacle with the potential catastrophic denial of GPS signals across the United States, or you may wish to refer to it as FCC-sponsored nationwide GPS jamming as I have often heard it described.

In my opinion, the whole LightSquared issue is ludicrous and borders on the criminal. If LightSquared and inept FCC commissioners, who can’t spell space, have their way, our warfighters and first responders will not be able to train the way they fight in the U.S. or for that matter “… defend the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic…” which, to the best of my recollection, they are sworn to do, and LightSquared would cripple that ability. And this is how the loss of GPS signals across the United States applies to you and me on a daily basis. When you are having a medical emergency, say a major coronary, the short-staffed paramedics will no longer be able to find your home in time to save your life, and the undermanned fire department won’t arrive until your home has burned down or the over-burdened police department won’t arrive until the burglars are long gone, because they will be too busy looking at outdated paper maps trying to determine where you live. And don’t get me started on undermanned FAA control towers, the potential loss of next-gen, GPS enroute navigation, approaches, departures, and sleepy overworked controllers. The entire future of the FAA and our air travel in the U.S. is based on satellite navigation and in the U.S. that means GPS. That is now at risk plus the millions of dollars and jobs that will be lost because of LightSquared. GPS is and always has been a recognized force multiplier and without it critical service providers across our nation will become even more short-handed. and he U.S. could loose over $100B in revenue annually. All so young people, who are mostly too young to vote Mr. President, can have a broadband signal to browse the Internet and play games in the middle of Kansas, or of course the all-important ability to download, read, and comment on those Congressional Bills awaiting the President’s signature…just another promise by candidate Obama that has never materialized. Don’t hold your breath. Write your congressman now.


LightSquared Webinar Set for May 26, 10 a.m. PDT

A panel of experts will discuss findings contained in the May 15 status report by the FCC Technical Working Group on LightSquared/GPS Interference Issue. The TWG’s third report is anticipated to include at least some testing results of GPS receivers under LightSquared conditions: terrestrial transmitters in the L-1 Band (1525 MHz–1559 MHz) immediately adjacent to the band (1559–1610 MHz) where GPS and other GNSSs operate. Webinar panelists will represent the high-precision sector, aviation, consumer handsets, and timing infrastructure. Register today.


NSS Speakers

Alas, I digress, so let’s step off the soapbox momentarily and move on to more positive happenings at the NSS, but you haven’t heard the last of LightSquared. If only we were so fortunate. Onto the outstanding agenda of presentations… There were almost 100 speakers at this year’s Space Symposium, and if you count the Cyber Space presentations there were well over 100 speakers, some with topics more interesting than others of course, but all the presentations I attended were professional and at a minimum engaging and focused on the future of the space enterprise. Unfortunately you could not go more than five minutes without a speaker expressing his or her opinion, or someone asking your opinion, about the LightSquared debacle. At least I can say that regardless of the opinions, they were certainly passionate.


Bottom Line At The End: BLATE

So the bottom line on the NSS is if your interests, personal or business related, are in the National Security Space arena, then the NSS is the place to be. A time-sensitive agenda with interesting and high-level presentations, exhibits from the world’s leading space companies, networking opportunities that are second to none, and all in a venue that King Arthur would love. Truly the Broadmoor accommodations, the courteous and professional staff, the excellent cuisine, and the breathtaking views are second to none. Plan now and see what all the fuss is about at the “Premier Gathering of the Global Space Community,” the 28th National Space Symposium, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, April 16-19, 2012.

GPS Partnership Council

Fast-forward a mere two weeks and now we are attending the AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association) sponsored 10th Annual GPS Partnership Council at SMC, Space and Missile Systems Center, at Los Angeles Air Force Base in California. This event, which was successfully and artfully resurrected four years ago by the then GPS Wing Commander, Colonel David Madden, has carried on under the auspices of Colonel Bernie Gruber, the current director of the newly designated GPS Directorate. Managerially sponsored by the local AFCEA chapter with funding provided in the most part by numerous GPS primes and their sub-contractors, this is a first-class event you need to attend if you are a hard-core GPS groupie. The folks at AFCEA ably aided by Colonel J.B. Borris (USAF Reserves), the indomitable event chairman for four years running, and his team — especially this year’s narrator extraordinaire, Captain Tiffany “Tupperware” Ware, who fortunately had a great sense of humor, which certainly comes in handy with this crowd — put on another memorable council. Frankly, even though I fondly remember the old GPS Partnership Councils, pre-Madden, they do not hold a candle to the content and professional first-class events of the last four years. If you are a military, civil, or commercial GPS/PNT professional, or work in a GPS-related industry, then the GPS Partnership Council in Los Angeles is where you needed to be last week, and it is never too early to plan for next year’s event in May 2012. One old-timer I overheard explaining this event to a newcomer said it this way: “Think of this as a joint military, inter-agency, civil, and comm
ercial get-together of GPS subject matter experts.” That works for me.

While the venue is two hours west by fast jet and about 6100 feet lower in altitude than the NSS, the same professionalism still prevails. Of course this event is GPS centric and since GPS is so ubiquitous in our everyday lives, we should all take note of the news coming from this important event. While it is only 1/45 the size of the NSS, it is no less important to those who depend on GPS as their raison de vivre. This years’ theme was “Executing Modernization…Enabling New Paths and Beyond.” However, I enjoyed General Robert Rosenberg’s comment, during his rousing remarks relating to the way ahead in a fiscally restrained environment, that the theme might more appropriately be taken from one of Winston Churchill’s famous quotes during WWII, “Gentlemen, we have run out of money. Now we have to think.”

The speakers at this years’ event, especially General Rosenberg, were on the whole outstanding from the introductory comments by Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan (USAF), SMC/CC, who will be hanging up his military spurs later this month, encouraged us all to have a good time and left us with a quote from the International Academy of Astronautics, which has declared that to date “GPS is the space program that has proven the greatest human benefit in the history of space.”

Just after General Rosenberg’s wonderful invigorating and thought provoking lecture, and yes he included the LighSquared debacle, a very senior and well-known member of the audience, who was speaking to me as a colleague and friend and not as a journalist, so I will respect his wish for anonymity, expressed his dismay that… “a private for-profit company should be allowed to wreak such havoc on our critical national infrastructure… it is simply criminal. Why doesn’t someone in the military speak up? What is wrong with this administration? Do you think the President is not aware of the potential devastation he has wrought? This whole LightSquared issue just makes me ill.” I could not have said it better.

Warfighter Panel

While it was great to hear about the proclamation by the International Academy of Astronautics, the awesome warfighter panel presentation on the last day of the GPS Partnership Council was in my opinion the highlight of the event. To see and hear how the panel of Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, USAF Special Operators, and USAF aviators and others actually use GPS not only to accomplish their missions but to save lives every day is exciting. The warfighter panel provided feedback on how warfighters’ lives depend on GPS, and as a former warfighter the moving presentations made my chest swell with pride and brought a tear to my eye. These young men and women are going in harm’s way and they deserve the best equipment and support we can provide. At the end of the day the warfighter panel received a much-deserved standing ovation and I was proud to be in the audience. I hope they caught it on video so you can all experience it someday. Emotions were running high to say the least.

Extras + Networking

Just as during the NSS, the networking opportunities at the GPS Partnership Council were abundant and rife with potential. Plus fun was had at the biggest networking opportunity of all, the annual golf tournament, where you get to rub shoulders and compare bogies, with a who’s who of the GPS community; plus the now traditional libation-fueled networking event at “Shade” was a fun time for all who attended as well.

Exhibits

Certainly the exhibits at this event are at a minimum, but the companies that do exhibit have a very interested, attentive, and GPS-educated audience. If I were running a GPS/PNT/GNSS centric company, I would definitely want to be there as an exhibitor, because 100% of the audience is greatly interested in what you do. While current exhibit space is somewhat limited, there does appear to be room for expansion if needed. The biggest challenge at this event is a common one in California and that is parking, but there was a plan and it worked well as far as I could determine. I did not hear any complaints.

Boeing II-F Factory Tour

Since you are attending a GPS event at the home of GPS acquisition, opportunities for additional information abound with the large prime contractors in the area that support GPS, and this year as in the years past we were able to take advantage of that circumstance. This year wearing a slightly different hat I, and several of my think tank colleagues, visited with Ken Torek, the vice president for Navigation and Communications Systems & Space and Intelligence Systems, and his staff, which included Jan Heide, the new Boeing GPS Program Director, at the new Boeing GPS II-F facility in El Segundo, California. We were given the VIP treatment and were able to see IIF satellite vehicles three through seven, all in various stages of completion on the innovative, labor, and cost savings Boeing Pulse Line. In this configuration the satellite comes to you in a fashion that would make Henry Ford proud. While on our tour we learned that SV IIF-2 has already been shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a launch scheduled sometime in July. We also learned this will most likely be the only II-F launch in 2011. Since there are 31 active satellites on orbit, with three residuals and one in standby mode, the launch schedule has been moved to the right with the lack of urgency resulting in one GPS launch per year for the foreseeable future. Barring a catastrophic event on orbit, this will most likely be the future of GPS launches for the life of the II-F program. As previously predicted we will most probably witness several IIIA launches (built by LMCO) before the II-F launches are complete. My hat is off to Boeing for a great afternoon of briefings and tours, plus here’s hoping for a successful IIF-2 launch in July.

PRNs and Accuracy

During the council the USAF and DOT announced that they would be removing the PRN-1 number from SVN-49 (the one with spurious signals that has been placed in standby mode) and releasing the test PRN for use with IIF-2, that when launched in July will utilize PRN-1 while it is being checked out. Once operational, another PRN will be assigned that will be especially helpful for precision users (surveyors and such). Since the ground command and control system cannot currently handle more than 31 PRN’s, for reasons not appropriate to this venue, (a problem that will supposedly be fixed by OCX in 2015) this means that SVN-49 will be placed in residual status for now and in all likelihood also means another SV will be placed in residual status as well, bringing that total number to five SVs in residual status. When I checked this move with other sources they were quick to assure me that this does not mean they have given up on SVN-49 and indeed they hope to find a way to make it a fully functioning member of the GPS constellation in the years to come. No timetable for that move obviously. But I was assured they are still working the issues.

Since the single on orbit instance of the II-F SV is proving to have an extremely accurate clock, hopes are that IIF-2 will follow by broadcasting a more accurate timing signal, which translates to more accuracy on the ground. Remember from MEO one nanosecond of timing accuracy equates to one foot of position accuracy on the ground.

 

Another Civil Focus Day?

Colonel Gruber announced that General Shelton, the current AFSPC/CC will more than likely follow in the footsteps of General Kehler, the former AFSPC Commander, and announce a follow-on Civil Focus Day most likely to be held at Air Force Space Command sometime this year. The first resurrected event of it’s kind in about ten-years, it was a big success in 2010.

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m>GPS-IIIA: OCX Updates and the Gap

Colonel Gruber provided us with an update on the GPS-IIIA program by Lockheed Martin, which is on track for the first GPS IIIA launch sometime in 2014, and an update on the Raytheon OCX program, or new GPS ground Command and Control system, due to be operational sometime in 2015. While Colonel Gruber is happy with the way both contracts are progressing, in my opinion we still have the famous “gap” that everyone goes out of their way to explain is not really a gap, but in new government speak as proclaimed by a pundit from the stage during the National Space Symposium, what we really have is “negative operational margin.” But seriously it is still a gap, no matter how you characterize or spin it and one that still needs to be closed. And yes I know all about the plan to fill the “gap that doesn’t exist” with the new LCS (Launch and Checkout System). While I don’t object to LCS per se, I do object to the way ahead as currently envisioned by SMC. There is in my opinion an extremely clear way ahead for LCS; why not use the same incredibly reliable, low risk, and very affordable independent LADO (Launch/Early Orbit, Anomaly Resolution, Disposal, and Operations (LADO) System, built by Braxton Technologies, that the USAF used for the IIA, IIR, IIRM, and IIF SVs and is the only technology that allows us to operate residual satellites today? Can you say past performance matters? Can you understand excellence and low risk are key performance parameters? Alas, on this issue the acquisition community for some reason beyond my ken cannot, and now the politicians and cost accountants are involved. Indeed, it has become the dreaded forest for the trees sort of issue. I’ll do my best to keep you updated. And I would very much like to say that surely reason, logic, and common sense will prevail, but then I inevitably think about the LightSquared debacle and I am not at all sanguine about filling the gap, excuse me, the negative operational margin, in a logical or timely fashion with the current plan in place. For the same reason I am not sanguine about the U.S maintaining GPS as the Gold Standard for the world. Can you spell insanity? L I G H T S Q U A R E D or just abbreviate it as F C C, take your pick.

Constellation Update

Colonel Gruber’s constellation update read like this (comments are mine):

Status of the Enhanced 24 GPS Constellation

  • 35 total GPS satellites on orbit (Most ever on orbit)
  • 31 total GPS satellites set healthy (Max for AEP)
  • 3 residual GPS satellites (enabled by LADO)
  • 1 standby GPS satellite (SVN 49)
  • IIA – 11 GPS satellites on orbit (average life 16 years, oldest 20 years)
  • IIR – 12 GPS satellites
  • IIR (M) – 7 GPS satellites
  • IIF – 1 GPS satellite

It was a very uplifting and “good news” presentation right up to the point where someone in authority hinted that the entire GPS Modernization effort being briefed by Colonel Gruber was in danger due to the LightSquared debacle. Do you sense an underlying theme?

GPS Hall of Fame

At the end of Colonel Gruber’s presentation we all had a nice surprise when he inducted the distinguished aerospace engineer  William (Bill) Feess from Aerospace Corporation into the GPS Hall of Fame. Bill has been a stable and guiding force at Aerospace for the last 48 years with many of those years spent in the GPS arena dating from the 621B era. A well-deserved honor for Bill and the Partnership Council was the perfect venue for the award.

Rockwell Collins

During one of the numerous networking breaks I ran into Trevor Overton the Principal Program Manager for Surface Navigation Programs and Government Systems at Rockwell Collins, the company that produces the DAGR or Defense Advanced GPS Receiver. Rockwell Collins had a large booth and display, as they do every year and they were well represented in the DAGR and micro-DAGR arena by Gina Krug who serves as the Principal Account Manager for Precision Navigation and Government Systems. Mr. Overton is the one that got my attention however because somehow his title translates into the engineer who is in charge of the embedded side of the GPS operations at Rockwell Collins and he let me know rather quickly and in no uncertain terms that he had nothing to do with the handheld DAGR but worked solely with embedded systems. Then he showed me the fruits of Rockwell’s latest endeavor, the MicroGRAM, a new embedded GPS with GPS SAASM (v3.7) chip that area wise is about the same size as an SD chip, 19 mm sq, but about three times as thick since it is built with 90 nanometer technology. It has solder points for embedding on a systems board by OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and is 12-channel capable. However, it was the near SD size that intrigued me. While embedded works and I hope they sell a ton of them, being able to slide this GPS + SAASM chip capability into an SD slot on any device with an SD slot, an antenna and a display is very appealing and constitutes a capability the war fighters have been asking for and could benefit from today; but Rockwell tells me there would be significant security issues with this approach. More on this chip in a later article when I have had a chance to visit Rockwell Collins and see what the future holds. Iowa in the Spring sounds doable.

GPS and Seismology

There was a very interesting briefing on what is now known as the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Seismologist have apparently settled on a 9.0 rating on the Richter scale, which is the fourth largest earthquake on record since 1900, with enough power was generated to power the entire planet for 40 years if someone could figure out a way to harness all that raw power. The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami are catastrophic events that Japan and the world will long remember. Undoubtedly there will be lessons learned, especially in the nuclear power plant protection arena. In the briefing at the GPS Partnership Council, we learned that Japan had prepared as best they could from a geodetic warning point of view by building more than 1,000-networked GPS receiver sites known as GEONET. It was hoped that GEONET would provide warnings of cataclysmic seismic events, but the system experienced a real-time telemetry failure, as in it is hard to transmit when your antennas are under a hundred feet of seawater. However, now critical GPS data from the event are being retrieved and processed so there are still valuable lessons to be learned even in a post-processing environment. One of the most impressive graphs of the data shows that just prior to the tsunami the GPS monitoring stations around the Sendai area of Japan actually shifted to the east by four meters. I was shocked by that information. You might expect four centimeters or four inches of movement but four meters represents an event of catastrophic proportions in the seismology world, and indeed we have all seen the results on the nightly news. Obviously the GPS seismology data is crucial to future earthquake planning and even to earthquake-proof building codes around the globe. Consequently, in the future in Japan and in the Unites States we can expect to see GPS used co-seismically as a real-time monitoring and warning tool. The question is how do you make the seismology warning system survivable to a four-meter (~12 feet) physical displacement and able to survive a 125-foot wall of seawater moving at jet speeds?

Garmin Has a Deal for You

During another of the networking breaks I was introduced to Rick Evans, a former Marine, who serves as the business development manager for government and law enforcement at Garmin, in Olathe, Kansas. Since Garmin does not have a designated military division, this is as close as it gets. It is a
well documented fact (we have a database of more than 8,000 responses to surveys and interviews) that a huge majority (>95%) of our warfighters use Garmin or other civilian, commercial equipment in theater because it works, meets their needs in a non-jamming environment, and has a very user-friendly interface. I plan to follow up with Rick and possibly visit Garmin, but I want to pass on a bit of interesting and valuable information to our warfighters and first responders. If you fit in either of those categories, there is a website just for you that allows you to order Garmin equipment at a considerable discount. But again it is only for warfighters and first responders/law enforcement, and you can find it at Strohman Enterprises. More on this at a later date. Let me know how this works for you if and when you order from this site.

Future Events

I’m running out of airspeed and space but I do want to mention two upcoming Colorado events I will be attending in June and you should attend if you are interested in GPS and the warfighter or from a first-responder perspective. The first event is the Space and Cyberwarfare Symposium in Keystone, Colorado, June 14-16. This will be the sixth year for this up-close-and-personal gathering of space and cyber experts. This year’s theme is Space and Cyberspace Innovation: Leveraging the Enterprise to Win the Joint Fight. And of course today it is all about the joint fight. Even the Seal Team Six raid in Pakistan was a joint endeavor. I’m sure we will hear more about that at the Symposium.

My favorite parts of this symposium are the small size and the access you have to senior decision makers who are far away from their office and phones and able to relax in the Rocky Mountains. There are extended networking sessions between briefings that provide you with plenty of opportunities to connect. Plus, do you know how much farther a golf ball flies at 10,000 feet? It really makes a difference. So you can probably predict my next favorite features are the venue and the people involved. This professional and educational yet relaxed atmosphere event is very well put together and you will be happy you attended. Come join me as I ride my mountain bike alongside the roaring Snake River — with GPS attached of course. Hope to see you there.

ION

The next event is the annual ION (Institute of Navigation) and JSDE or Joint Services Data Exchange co-sponsored Joint Navigation Conference (JNC), which will be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this year and next. This year’s FOUO events take place June 27-30 at the Crown Plaza Hotel, while the classified session on June 30 takes place at the Elkhorn Conference Center located on Ft. Carson in south Colorado Springs. According to ION officials, this year’s JNC will be the largest U.S. military navigation conference of the year, with joint service and government participation. The event will focus on technical advances in positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) with emphasis on joint development, test, and support of affordable PNT systems, logistics, and integration. From an operational perspective, the conference will also focus on advances in battlefield applications of GPS, critical strengths or weaknesses of fielded navigation devices, warfighter PNT requirements and solutions, to include navigation warfare. Plus the classified warfighter panel on June 30 at Ft. Carson (USA) should be enlightening because the warfighters are free to speak in a classified environment (SECRET) and relate details and experiences that would not be possible in a public forum. So go online and register today and don’t forget to have your security manager send your clearances and join us for the warfighter panel.

So June looks like it is a busy month for PNT professionals. I hope to see you all in the Rocky Mountains. Until next time, happy navigating.

 

This article is tagged with and posted in Defense, Defense PNT Newsletter, Newsletter Editorials, Opinions
Don Jewell

About the Author:

Don Jewell served 30 years in the United States Air Force, as an aviator and a space subject-matter expert. Don’s involvement with GPS and other critical space systems began with their inception, either as a test system evaluator or user. He served two command assignments at Schriever AFB, the home of GPS, and retired as Deputy Chief Scientist for Air Force Space Command. Don also served as a Politico Military Affairs Officer during the Reagan administration, working with 32 foreign embassies and serving as a Foreign Disclosure Officer making critical export control decisions concerning sophisticated military hardware and software. After retiring from the USAF, Don served seven years as the senior space marketer and subject-matter expert for two of the largest government contractors dealing in space software and hardware. Don currently serves on two independent GPS review teams he helped found, and on three independent assessment teams at the Institute for Defense Analyses, dealing with critical issues for the U.S. government. Don has served on numerous Air Force and Defense Scientific Advisory Boards. He writes and speaks extensively on technical issues concerning the U.S. government. Don earned his Bachelor’s degree and MBA; the Ph.D. is in progress.

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