BeiDou Releases Public Service Performance Document
In late December, director Ran Chengqi of China’s Satellite Navigation System Management Office announced the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) Public Service Performance Standard. The document details the public service performance parameters of the BeiDou system, including service area, accuracy, integrity, continuity, and availability. It is a basic commitment to customers from BDS providers, but also an important basis for customers to choose, use, and evaluate the system performance.
Also released is Version 2 of the BDS Interface Control Document (ICD) for the Open Service Signal. Among other changes, it includes a description of the B2I signal on 1207.140 MHz.
The publishing of the Public Service Performance Standard, a common practice among GNSS operators, is also a prerequisite for BeiDou system involvement in international civil aviation, international maritime, 3rd Generation Mobile [phone] System, and other international standard-setting organization activities.
The document has Chinese and English versions. Because document download from the BDS government website can be difficult, Richard Langley has made them available at the University of New Brunswick website:
Analysis. John Lavrakas of Advanced Research Corporation posted the following comment to the online version of this news story:
“I took a quick look at comparing the BeiDou Open Service Performance Standard with the GPS Standard Positioning Service Performance Standard and obtained mixed results.
“In some cases, the commitments from BeiDou were stronger (URE accuracy, the table to show green for the GNSS service committing to a more stringent standard over the other vertical position), and in other cases the commitments from GPS were stronger (continuity of service, advance notice of outages).
“The good news is that GNSS systems are documenting the service levels that users can expect. What we will need next is monitoring to verify these service levels are being met. Here is a link to my quick look:
Galileo to Sail, Penalty-Free
Schedule Overruns Not a Problem, Avers Space Agency Director-General
Athough the European Commission (EC) sternly put in place financial penalties for late delivery and arrival on orbit of Galileo satellites, the European Space Agency (ESA) that manages the process will not suffer the consequences of a one-year delay in their launch. The EC did not sign an industrial contract with the ESA for the Galileo work, according to an announcement by ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain made the announcement in mid-January 17.
Dordain said under the agreement, the EC pays for ESA’s staff costs, while ESA acts as technical manager for the program. But the industrial contract itself to build the satellites — and specifying the penalities — was not encompassed by this agreement.
Galileo’s schedule is now firmly back on track, according to ESA,since the first OHB satellite passed thermal-vacuum testing in November, and the second satellite is in the test chamber. Signals are apparently “go” for their launch in June aboard Soyuz rocket from Guiana Space Center in South America. A second pair should launch in October, and a third in December.
Meeting an Aggressive Date. The EC committed some time ago to start initial Galileo services in 2014. Delivery on this promise has become increasingly unclear after recent testing delays. Getting new Soyuz launch dates withing this year is not a sure-fire thing, either.
The Galileo Supervisory Authority earlier announced that it had validated the four initial operating-capability (IOV) Galileo spacecraft in orbit as perform twice as well as expected in terms of signal accuracy. However, the satellites provide very limited use, about one hour per day when all are visible to the same user.
Once six satellites become visible inthe sky, sometime after the planned June launch, testing qualification of early services can begin. With eight, actual service qualification is possible but not certain. Finally, with 10 satellites — December? — early services may be able to start.
Earlier last year, EC Vice President Antonio Tajani had warned that financial penalties to those building Galileo would cover the cost overruns due to the delay in launching the system. His finger appeared to point at ESA as much as OHB AG of Germany and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of Britain, who lead the industrial consortium building the satellites.
U.S.Transport DepSec Takes Potshot at CNAV
The departing Deputy Secretary of Transportation, John Porcari, wrote a letter in the closing days of 2013 opposing the U.S. Air Force’s announced plans to begin broadcasting Civil Navigation (CNAV) message-populated L2C and L5 signals as early as April 2014. Military personnel are incensed over what they see as Porcari’s impugning, when not ignoring, the Air Force 35-year track record of broadcasting the gold standard of global navigation satellite signals — something in which Transportation has zero experience.
Porcari alludes in his December 27 letter to “non-standard engineering tools” and “non-standard operations” that he believes would come into play for early CNAV broadcast. “These have the potential to inject human error, which may result in unacceptable GPS constellation operation.”
What Porcari means by “non-standard” he does not specify, although he confesses to unease as “the ability to monitor these signals, [without which] the system will not know if the L2C and LS signals are within specification. Given these risks, DOT is concerned that the CNAV messages could provide hazardously misleading information, impacting GPS safety-of-life, protection of property, and economic security applications.” The full text of the Porcari letter is available here.
OCX Delay the Cause? Because the current GPS ground control system cannot generate CNAV, and the next-generation OCX —which can — will not be ready by April, anothercomputer will apparently develop the civil signal navigation data. However, neither the data or message is intended for actual use, nor will the FAA or any transport agency employ it. The advance project is designed to aid reciever manufaturers and developers in adpting to the new signal.
In addition to questioning Air Force 2 SOPS ability to broadcast an accurate, compliant signal containing CNAV, the letter appears to ignore — or be ignorant of — the 17 official U.S. government/military monitoring sites for GPS distributed around the world, not to mention thousands of other monitoring sites run by government agencies such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and by many universities such as Stanford, Ohio State, Cal Tech, and many other international institutions around the world. Many of these sites collaborate under the rubric of the International GNSS Service.
Finally, John Deere and Trimble Navigation both operate automated GPS signal monitoring systems that that report any anomaly in the navigation message for all GPS signals with an average two-second notification time.
“This letter is so much BS,” fumed one source who wished to remain anonymous, “coming from an agency that is in arrears in its GPS payments to the tune of more than $70 million and has no clue how to represent the global GPS user. GPS is a ubiquitous system, not just a tool for the DOT and the Federal Aviation Administration. GPS needs to implement these signals for all users and as a modernization program that was promised to be in place years ago.”
Porcari left for the private sector.
OCX Change Order to Ensure Proper M-Code Function
Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems has been awarded a change order for work that costs up to $8.5 million on its existing contract to ensure that the new military signal, M-code, works with the GPS Operational Control System, according to an announcement from the Pentagon as reported by Space News.
Raytheon is building the ground station (OCX) for a new generation of satellites that will bring more safety and precision to GPS. The contract modification is to assure implementation of M-code capabilities across OCX Block 1 and 2. M-code is the new highly secure, anti-jam signal designed for the GPS III constellation. The current GPS ground control system lacks M-code capability.
The OCX is designed to work with the advanced GPS III positioning, navigation and timing satellites, slated to start launching in 2015, and also will be backwardly compatible with existing GPS satellites.
Raytheon won the $886.4 million prime contract to develop the OCX in February 2010. Work will be performed at Raytheon’s facility in Aurora, Colorado, and is expected to be completed by August 31, 2016.
The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Contracting Directorate, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the contracting agency.
Details. Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems, Aurora, Colorado, was awarded the unpriced change order (P00112) with a not-to-exceed of $8,595,748 on an existing contract (FA8807-10-C-0001) for M-Code Implementation on the Operational Control System. The contract modification is to assure implementation of M-Code Capabilities across OCX Block 1 and 2. Work will be performed at Aurora and is expected to be completed by August 31, 2016. Fiscal 2014 research and development funds will be obligated at definitization.
GAGAN Certified for Aviation over India
The Director General of Civil Aviation of India has certified the GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system to Required Navigation Performance 0.1 Nautical Mile (RNP0.1) service level.
Aircraft equipped with satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) receivers can now use GAGAN signals in Indian airspace for en route navigation and non-precision approaches without vertical guidance.
Mission control centers and uplink stations now operate on Indian soil. Messages carrying corrections to GPS signals are sent to satellites in geostationary orbit carrying the GAGAN payload.
The availability of the GAGAN signal over Indian airspace bridges the gap between European Union’s European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Japan’s Multi-functional Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS) coverage areas.
The SBAS consists of 15 Indian reference stations, three uplink stations, three mission control centers, and three GAGAN payloads broadcasting in C and L bands and with all the associated software and communication links.
GAGAN will provide augmentation service for GPS over India, the Bay of Bengal, South East Asia and the Middle East expanding up to Africa.
Car, Nav Makers Emulate NSA: Track, Store Consumer Data
U.S. Big Three automakers and some Japanese car companies track and store data from customers’ on-board navigation systems, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The document describes, in general fashion, practices at General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, and further delves into data storage by GPS manufacturers Garmin and TomTom and nav app designers Google Maps and Telenav.
The GAO said the automakers collect data at times to assist customers with traffic updates, emergency roadside assistance, and to track stolen vehicles.None of the companies currently sell the data, according to the report, but most drivers do not know what information is being tracked and cannot opt out of the data collection programs.
The companies can “track where consumers are, which can in turn be used to steal their identity, stalk them or monitor them without their knowledge. In addition, location data can be used to infer other sensitive information about individuals such as their religious affiliation or political activities.”
The report claims the companies’ privacy policies are sometimes unclear, making it difficult for consumers to understand the potential risks of using their GPS navigation devices.
No federal law regulates GPS privacy; it is not illegal for private companies to collect, use, or sell personal information. Several proposals have been floated in Congress to protect the privacy of GPS data, but none enacted.