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Celebrating GPS: The First 50 Years

Happy Anniversary, Global Positioning System! As we kick off this multi-week celebration of the 50th Anniversary of GPS, we are excited to highlight the history of GPS by featuring pioneers, entrepreneurs, technologies, systems, milestones, and applications that brought us to where we are today.

And while we’re celebrating past accomplishments, we also look forward to what the future of GPS will bring.

Follow the GPS Innovation Alliance on Twitter/X @GPS4Life and on LinkedIn to learn more about GPS as we celebrate the past and look towards the future.

Join us! Add your experiences and expertise to the conversation using the hashtag #GPS50.

It’s All About the People The GPS community – the people who design, develop, operate, and use systems, technologies, and applications – are world class.

From pioneers, scientists, engineers, and Guardians to civil servants and entrepreneurs, the GPS community have, are, and will continue to transform lives across the Earth – and soon, the Moon!

The “System” in #GPS is Essential GPS encompasses an entire system of space- and ground-based technologies and equipment to deliver the transformative and reliable innovations we have at our fingertips today.

Key components of the GPS system include:

  • Satellites orbit the Earth and transmit valuable information to military, civil, and commercial operators and users.

  • Ground stations keep satellites on orbit and maintain their health & safety.

  • User receivers capture satellite signals and determine a 3-D location with meter-level accuracy and 10-nanosecond precise time.

  • Space- and ground-based augmentation systems improve GPS accuracy.

If you want to learn more about GPS and how it works, check out this brief tutorial authored by David Allan, a legend in precision timing, or visit the GPS.gov website.


Where is GPS used, you ask? From navigation to synchronizing time-based information to precision location, GPS is everywhere you thought and places you didn’t know:

  • ​Military & diplomatic operations

  • Sports

  • Banking

  • Electrical grid

  • Surveying

  • Construction

  • Mapping

  • Trains

  • Planes

  • Automobiles

  • UAVs

  • Shipping

  • Boating

  • Search and Rescue

  • Locating 911 calls

  • Directing First Responders to Emergency locations

  • Assisting the visually impaired

  • Locating satellites in space

  • Improving spectrum efficiencies of wireless networks

  • Tracking wildlife

  • Monitoring dams

  • Detecting and locating earthquakes

  • Locating wildfires

  • Precision farming

  • Fraud detection

  • And more!








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