U.S. Statement from UN-COPUOS
February 19, 2008
The following remarks were delivered during a meeting of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in Vienna, Austria.
Statement by James Higgins, United States Representative, on Agenda Item 10, Recent Developments in Global Navigation Satellite Systems
Mr. Chairman, my delegation is pleased to provide an overview of U.S. space-based PNT policy, information about the status of our constellation and modernization efforts, and a summary of U.S. diplomatic efforts on a bilateral and multilateral basis to support compatibility and interoperability among current and future space-based PNT providers.
First, let me start out with a summary of the main policy points the United States supports concerning space-based positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) systems. The United States strongly supports compatibility and interoperability among current and future space-based PNT systems. The U.S. is committed to keeping the Global Positioning System (GPS) as a central pillar in an emerging international system of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). The U.S. intends to continue improving GPS's accuracy and performance. Our consistent policy of open access to all information needed to design and build new products and services using GPS has helped unleash the power of free markets and private enterprise for the good of all users worldwide.
Like the Internet, the U.S. Global Positioning System is now a critical component of the global information infrastructure. New applications for GPS are constantly being introduced, facilitating greater business efficiency, transportation safety, environmental protection, public security, scientific discovery, etc. Since its initial deployment, GPS has grown into a global utility providing space-based PNT solutions in a stable and reliable fashion. Increasing adoption of GPS by businesses and governments for infrastructure use is made possible by the predictable and dependable U.S. policy framework that allows open access to the necessary elements to develop new commercial and civil products and services based on GPS. This framework has strengthened over time, with several key milestones worth mentioning:
- In 1978 the first GPS satellite was launched
- In 1983 President Reagan offered free civilian access to GPS to help ensure aviation safety around the world
- GPS reached full operational capability in 1995
- The first United States GPS Policy was signed by President Clinton in 1996. It set in motion the decision to set Selective Availability to Zero in 2000, and included important principles such as the provision of the GPS Standard Positioning Service for peaceful civil, commercial and scientific use on a continuous, worldwide basis, free of direct user fees. In 1997 the U.S. Congress passed this principle into law that remains in effect today.
- In 2004 President Bush issued an updated U.S. Policy on Space-Based PNT that further improved the policy and management framework governing GPS and its augmentations to support their continued ability to meet increasing and varied domestic and global requirements
- In 2007, at the ICAO General Assembly, U.S. Transportation Secretary Peters announced that all new GPS III satellites will be built without the Selective Availability feature.
Key elements of the 2004 Policy include the goals that: the U.S. provide uninterrupted availability of PNT services; GPS remains the pre-eminent military space-based PNT service for U.S. and allied use; the U.S. continue to provide civil services that exceed or are competitive with other civil space-based PNT services; and GPS remains an essential component of internationally accepted PNT services. It is important to remember that the global GPS civil service performance commitment has been met continuously, without interruption, since 1993.
GPS is a dual civil-military system with oversight, per the 2004 Policy, by a Deputy Secretary-level National Executive Committee for Space-Based PNT. The Executive Committee is supported by a National Coordination Office (NCO) staffed by civilian and military personnel detailed from key Departments. The Committee also receives expert advice from industry and academia through an Advisory Board administered by NASA. This Board includes significant non-U.S. membership.
Although the number of operational satellites constantly changes as old satellites are removed from service and replaced by modernized satellites with additional signals and improved accuracy, the GPS constellation currently has 30 operational satellites. One indicator of GPS' improving performance is that the User Range Error of the signals has decreased from 4.6 meters in 1990 to less than one meter today, reflecting the U.S. commitment to constantly improving the accuracy and availability of GPS signals.
Current efforts to modernize GPS include system-wide improvements in accuracy, availability, integrity and reliability; continued backward compatibility as new signals are introduced; robustness against interference; improved indoor, mobile and urban use; and interoperability with other GNSS. We replaced our 20 year old operational control segment in September 2007 enabling greater monitoring redundancy and operational efficiency. Development contracts for a new generation ground control segment and the next generation GPS III satellites are expected to be awarded this year. The next generation GPS III satellites will provide operational capability for the second civil signal known as L2C, the third civil signal, L5 and L1C, which was jointly developed with Europe to be fully interoperable with the Galileo Open Service.
Positive results from over a decade of U.S. cooperation and diplomatic efforts on satellite navigation issues are beginning to be seen. New satellite constellations and regional augmentation systems, while independently owned and operated, are being designed to be compatible and interoperable. The International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG), which emerged from the 3rd UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and formally established in November 2006, is already making significant progress towards the goals of encouraging compatibility and interoperability among global and regional space-based PNT systems and promoting the use of GNSS and its integration into infrastructures, particularly in developing countries.
We thank India and the Indian Space Research Organization for hosting the highly successful 2nd ICG meeting held at Bangalore in September 2007. The U.S. is also very pleased that a GNSS Providers Forum has been set up in conjunction with the ICG. As agreed at the Providers Forum meeting at Bangalore, India, in September 2007, the U.S. understands that "compatible" means, inter alia, the ability of different space-based PNT systems to be used separately or together without interfering with each individual service or signal. We further understand that compatibility should also involve spectral separation between each system's authorized service signals and other systems' signals. The members also agreed that "interoperable" means the ability of different civil space-based PNT systems to be used together to provide the user better capabilities than would be achieved by relying solely on one service or signal.
In addition, we want to recognize the staff and leadership of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) for all their hard work in assisting with the planning and organization of this meeting and for their continued support as Secretariat for the ICG and Providers Forum. In this regard, since 2001, the U.S. is pleased to have provided close to $1 million to OOSA in support of GNSS related activities, including regional workshops and support to the ICG and Providers Forum.
The next meeting of the ICG and Providers Forum will be held at Pasadena, California, December 8-12, 2008.
The U.S. has many productive bilateral relationships on satellite navigation issues. U.S.-Japanese cooperation on GPS has included regular policy and technical consultations since 1996 and is currently based on the 1998 Clinton-Obuchi Joint Statement. Japan's MT-SAT Satellite-based Augmentation System (MSAS), which was declared operational in September 2007, is fully compatible and interoperable with GPS. Japan's Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), which will improve GPS coverage over Japan, has also been designed to be compatible and interoperable with GPS. The U.S. is working with Japan to set up QZSS monitoring stations in Hawaii and Guam.
The European Union and the U.S. signed a GPS-Galileo Cooperation Agreement in 2004. We jointly designed a new civil signal modulation called MBOC that will be used on both GPS III and the Galileo Open Service. We also confirmed compatibility and interoperability between the planned signals known as L5 on GPS and E5a on Galileo. Russia and the U.S. have been negotiating a GPS-GLONASS Cooperation Agreement since 2004. Productive technical working group meetings have been held. The Russian Working Group One chair has proposed Russian adoption of two new civil CDMA signals at L1 and L5 which will be interoperable with GPS, supporting an emerging international consensus on use of L1 and L5 for interoperable civil signals.
India and the U.S. have had policy and technical consultations on GPS cooperation underway since 2005. Interoperability between the U.S. Government supported Wide Area Augmentation Service (WAAS) and India's planned GAGAN augmentation system based on GPS, has been agreed. The U.S. and India are also discussing greater interoperability between GPS and the planned India Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).
In conclusion, let me reiterate several key policy principles. The U.S. intends to continue improving GPS's accuracy and performance. The U.S. is committed to keeping GPS as a central pillar in an emerging international system of Global Navigation Satellite Systems. As new space-based PNT systems are emerging, interoperability is the key to "success for all." Therefore, the United States strongly supports compatibility and interoperability among current and future space-based positioning, navigation and timing systems.