U.S. Statement from COPUOS
S&T Subcommittee

February 12, 2010

The following remarks were delivered by the U.S. representative to the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in Vienna, Austria.

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Statement by the United States Representative, Mr. James Higgins
Agenda Item 10, Recent Developments in Global Navigation Satellite Systems

Mr. Chairman, 2009 was a year of solid, reliable performance for the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) based on a proven and stable space-based positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) policy framework. My delegation is pleased to provide a snapshot of U.S. space-based PNT policy and the current GPS constellation status and modernization efforts. In addition we will provide a summary of U.S. diplomatic efforts on a multilateral and bi-lateral basis to support compatibility and interoperability among current and future space-based PNT providers.

First, let me summarize some of the main policy points the United States follows concerning space-based PNT systems. The United States strongly supports compatibility and interoperability among current and future space-based PNT systems. The U.S. will make every effort to continue our unbroken track record of meeting or exceeding our global GPS civil service performance commitment since 1993. The U.S. intends to continue improving GPS's accuracy and performance. Our consistent and continuing 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.

GPS is now a critical component of global infrastructure. Cell phones, financial transactions, and electric transmission lines all depend on GPS timing signals for dependable and efficient operation. Farmers around the world use GPS for precision agricultural applications, increasing yields while reducing environmental impacts. Reliable GPS navigation solutions help airplanes, ships and trucks achieve more direct, fuel-efficient routes, saving time and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. GPS is enabling improvements in scientific research, from more accurate reference frame realizations to space weather measurement and prediction. Increasing adoption of GPS by businesses and governments for infrastructure use is facilitated by the stable U.S. policy framework that allows open access to the necessary elements to develop new commercial and civil products and services based on GPS, as well as the good stewardship of the system by the U.S. Air Force which operates the system 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For much of 2009, GPS had 30 operational satellites healthy and broadcasting to ensure a baseline constellation of 24 satellites. We have four additional satellites in residual status that can be brought back into service should one of the currently operating satellites suffer an unexpected breakdown. Seven block IIR-M satellites are broadcasting the new civil signal at L2C. The U.S. expects to have 24 satellites broadcasting the L2C signal by 2016. One new satellite started broadcasting the new L5 civil signal on April 10, 2009, thus securing the GPS filing for that frequency with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The U.S. is looking forward to the launch around June 2010 of the first of a new block of satellites, the IIF block. Each satellite in this block will provide all previous capabilities, such as the L2C civil signal, as well as add the third civil signal at L5. The U.S. expects to have 24 satellites broadcasting the L5 signal by 2018.

Some GPS receivers attain very high accuracy by using "codeless" or "semi-codeless" techniques. These techniques will no longer be necessary once the new civil GPS signals at L2C and L5 are fully operational. The U.S. Government published a notice in 2008 for users of codeless or semi-codeless receivers to transition to GPS civil coded signals by December 31, 2020. This notice provides time for an orderly and systematic transition to the new civil signals. In sum, with the full introduction of L2C and L5, global users will have access to civil signals that will far exceed the accuracy and reliability of what is presently available.

The United States compliments Russia on its successful hosting of the fourth meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG-4) and the meeting of the related Providers' Forum in St. Petersburg in September, 2009. We commend the Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) for its outstanding performance in assisting with the planning and organization of this meeting and for its continued support as the Executive Secretariat for the ICG and Providers' Forum. The U.S. was pleased with progress made on the ICG work plan, and in particular with the adoption of a new principle on transparency for open services. That principle is "Every provider should publish documentation that describes signal and system information, policies of provision and minimum levels of performance for its open services." The U.S. continues to provide financial support to OOSA in support of GNSS related activities, including regional workshops and support to the ICG and Providers' Forum.

The United States has many productive bi-lateral relationships on satellite navigation issues. U.S.-Japanese cooperation on GPS has included regular policy and technical consultations since 1996. In 2008 the U.S. and Japan signed agreements to set up QZSS monitoring stations at Hawaii and Guam. The Guam site opened in August 2009 and the Hawaii site is scheduled to open this year.

The United States and the European Community and its Member States signed a GPS-Galileo Cooperation Agreement in 2004. Of particular note in 2009 were meetings of Working Group C devoted, among other things, to describing the characteristics of joint GPS-Galileo receiver performance, putting into practice the desire of both parties to promote interoperability among systems. Russia and the United States have been working together to ensure compatibility and interoperability between GPS and GLONASS. The working group on search and rescue cooperation held its latest meeting at St. Petersburg in May 2009. The working group on radio frequency compatibility and interoperability has met many times as well.

In conclusion, let me reiterate several key policy principles. The United States intends to continue improving GPS's accuracy and performance. The United States is committed to keeping GPS as a central pillar in an emerging international system of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). As new systems emerge, interoperability among GNSS is a key factor in ensuring that civil users around the world receive the maximum benefit from GNSS applications. Therefore, the United States strongly supports international cooperation among current and future GNSS.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.