[FPSPACE] GPS history (was: Weapons in space)

Allen Thomson thomsona at flash.net
Sat Oct 16 21:30:19 EDT 2004

> But the social aspects are also important to explore.  From what I 
> understand, GPS actually got its budget zeroed-out several times during 
> the early 1980s.  I don't know why this happened.  Was the Air Force 
> serious about killing it?  Or did GPS become what is often called a 
> "golden goose" program?

I don't really know the answer.  But, in October 1978, I was in a group of 
people(*) who got briefed on GPS by a USAF colonel in California and 
remember being appalled(**) that he was frank about the service wanting to 
kill the program and use the money for other things.  Just how much he knew 
about policy thinking and motivations at higher levels I dinna ken, but he 
seemed quite sincere in his lack of enthusiasm for GPS.

One might speculate that the USAF saw navigation as being more a Navy 
problem -- it would be interesting to learn the details before the 
participants pass from the scene.

(*) This was the same group that got shown the Shuttle-morphed-to-turkey 
viewgraph by another USAF/NRO colonel in El Segundo a day or two earlier.

(**) The thought that popped into mind then and survives to this day was, 
"Don't they know how important it is to know what time it is and where you 

More information about the FPSPACE mailing list