21st century GPS breakdown

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Apparently the space boxes that send GPS data down to our waiting TomToms and iPhones are breaking down. The entire system could start failing next year, sending all of us into a strange hell of missed turns and aimless driving.

The satellites are overseen by the US Air Force, which has maintained the GPS network since the early 1990s. According to a study by the US government accountability office (GAO), mismanagement and a lack of investment means that some of the crucial GPS satellites could begin to fail as early as next year.

“It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption,” said the report, presented to Congress. “If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected.”

Remember: this is a US commissioned study and they’re basically trying to get more than the $2 billion they’re already getting to upgrade the system. The first replacement satellites should have been sent up in 2007 but failed. New satellites should hit the airwaves this year or we could end up using Russia or China’s homegrown solutions.

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