U.S. Statement to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

February 15, 2013

A U.S. government representative delivered the following remarks about GPS during the 50th Session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) in Vienna, Austria.

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Statement by the United States Representative on Agenda Item 9, Recent Developments in Global Navigation Satellite Systems

Mr. Chairman, the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) continues to set a high standard of reliability, accuracy, and service to the international community. The constellation continues an expanded 24+3 slot configuration to provide better coverage and availability around the world. Over the past year, the United States pursued diplomatic efforts on a multi-lateral and bi-lateral basis to support compatibility, interoperability, and transparency among current and future space-based positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) providers.

As of January 2013, the GPS had 31 operational satellites in orbit to ensure a baseline constellation of 24+3 satellites. Seven of the Block IIR-M satellites and three Block IIF satellites are broadcasting a second civil signal called L2C. The IIF satellites are also broadcasting a civil signal at L5, which eventually will be used for safety-of-life applications. Four additional satellites are in residual status and could be re-activated if necessary for constellation sustainment. Development continues on our next generation ground operational control system (OCX) which, once deployed in 2016, will support operations for GPS III and modernized GPS signals.

The civil GPS performance commitment has been met continuously since December 1993, and we intend to keep this record intact in the future. The entire GPS constellation continues performing at exceptional levels, averaging a user range error of less than one meter (.9 meter). The reliability of the constellation has been enhanced by solid performance from the Block IIR and IIR-M satellites which have solar array and power capacity that far exceeds the specified mean mission duration. The third Block IIF satellite was declared operational in November 2012. The next IIF launch is estimated to occur in mid-2013.

The United States has a longstanding policy to provide GPS civil signals free of direct user fees, and to provide open specifications on the signal design. In January, 2013, the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States announced that they had reached a common understanding of intellectual property (IP) rights related to the GPS and will work together to address broader global navigation satellite systems IP issues. This understanding is part of a broader shared effort to advance compatibility and interoperability among civil satellite navigation systems and transparency in civil service provision. The two governments affirmed their joint commitment to ensuring that GPS civil signals will remain perpetually free and openly available for users worldwide. As part of this effort, the U.K. is dedicating all government held patents and patent applications relating to U.S. GPS civil signal designs and their broadcast from GPS and other GNSS to the public domain. The U.K. has committed to not pursue or assert IP rights over any aspect of these signals, now or in the future.

As of December 2012, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has implemented over 3000 Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) approach procedures in conjunction with the deployment of Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) in other areas of the world. These procedures now provide over two-thirds of the total United States precision approach capability. WAAS supports three-dimensional navigation throughout most of North America and two-dimensional navigation over much of the western hemisphere. Procedures in Mexico will complement those already provided by the United States and Canada. Over 60,000 aircraft and their operators are benefiting from the increased safety and capacity provided by the United States implementation of SBAS. The United States would like to congratulate the EU on it successful commissioning of EGNOS in 2011 looks forward to India's planned commissioning of GAGAN in 2013.

The United States would like to assure the international community that we continue to work diligently to prevent, detect, and mitigate human-caused interference, both unintentional and intentional, to GPS/GNSS users. The 2010 U.S. National Space Policy directs us to "invest in domestic capabilities and support international activities to detect, mitigate, and increase resiliency to harmful interference to GPS…" The United States welcomes the results of the June 2012 Interference Detection and Mitigation (IDM) workshop held by the International Committee on GNSS (ICG) at Vienna. We support workshop recommendations - particularly ICG development of educational materials on interference sources and identification of an official monitoring centre recognized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The United States encourages other nations and administrations to take appropriate steps to protect GNSS users from interference and improve GNSS system robustness to counter interference. We are also pleased to hear that the ICG has developed an agenda for a follow-on IDM workshop to be held in conjunction with the Institute of Navigation (ION) Pacific PNT Conference April 19, 20 and 22, 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The United States compliments China on the successful hosting of the Seventh Plenary Meeting of the ICG and the meeting of the related Providers' Forum in Beijing, China, in November 2012. ICG-8 will be held later this year in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. We once again commend the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) for its outstanding performance in assisting with the planning and organization of these meetings and for its continued support as the Executive Secretariat for the ICG and Providers' Forum.

The United States was pleased with progress made on the ICG work plan. In particular, we are encouraged by the growing attention placed by the international community on multi-GNSS system monitoring to improve performance and interoperability as well as on interference detection and mitigation. In addition, the United States continues to promote greater transparency in GNSS systems in line with the adopted principle on transparency: "Every provider should publish documentation that describes signal and system information, policies of provision and minimum levels of performance for its open services."

The United States continues to provide stable financial support to UNOOSA in support of GNSS related activities, including regional workshops and support to the ICG and Providers' Forum.

In addition to our multilateral efforts on GNSS-related issues, particularly at the ICG, the United States has many productive bi-lateral relationships on satellite navigation issues. In 2012, the United States and Russia began discussions on possible siting of Russian GLONASS monitoring stations in the United States. Both Russia and the United States intend to work to the maximum extent practicable to pursue compatibility, interoperability and transparency in the provision of civil satellite-based navigation and timing signals.

The United States would like to also congratulate the EU on the successful launch of its second pair of in-orbit- validation Galileo satellites in October, 2012. During 2012, the United States continued its close cooperation with the EU on GNSS activities under the 2004 GPS-Galileo Cooperation Agreement with a Plenary meeting held in Washington in June and a number of working group meetings. We are happy to report we completed ITU coordination with the EU on its EGNOS signals and are pursuing ITU coordination on next generation GPS III signals.

In conclusion, let me reiterate several key policy principles. The United States intends to continue improving GPS's accuracy and availability through improved satellite and clock performance, and modernized satellites. The United States is committed to keeping GPS as a central pillar in an emerging international system of Global Navigation Satellite Systems. As new systems emerge, signal compatibility and interoperability among GNSS, as well as transparency in the provision of open civil services, will be key factors 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.

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