GPS to become accurate to within an arm’s length

GPS to become accurate to within an arms lengthFed up of your satnav being inaccurate by the odd metre? No, perhaps not. You’ve probably never even noticed that it isn’t 100 per cent accurate. For military operations, though, the margin for error could mean the difference between life and death.

But a new fleet of satellites being launched means that the GPS system is going to become far more accurate. Still not 100 per cent mind, but pretty close. The system is, according to reports, going to be accurate to within an arm’s length.

At the moment, there are 24 GPS satellites flying about in space. Well, 25 actually as one of the new ones was launched from Cape Canaveral this weekend. The original 24 are all being replaced, one at a time, by a new fleet of 30. 18 made by Boeing’s Space and Intelligence Systems and 12 from Lockheed Martin.

As well as powering your phone’s mapping system, your satnav and specialist military equipment, the GPS system also powers the atomic clock that provides the exact time for financial transactions.

The GPS system is run by the US. An EU system, called Galileo, is expected to be launched in the next 3-4 years. So if you’re planning on doing some space walking, be careful not to bump into anything. It sounds like it’s pretty cluttered up there.

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