2020 COPUOS STSC – U.S on Global Navigation Satellite Systems

GPS III Satellite. (Courtesy graphic / U.S. Air Force)

2020 COPUOS Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, Agenda Item 10, “Recent Developments in Global Navigation Satellite Systems”

U.S. statement as delivered by David Turner, United States Representative
Vienna, Austria, February 12, 2020

Thank you, Madame Chair and distinguished delegates.

With billions of users worldwide, the importance of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) to the world economy is clear. The U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) remains a central pillar in the expansion of GNSS coverage and use throughout the world, and the United States remains engaged in activities to ensure both compatibility and interoperability among the different GNSS services. In the year since our last meeting, the United States has continued to work on the integration of the next-generation of satellites, GPS Block III, which provide more capability and improved service with the broadcast of the 3rd civil signal, L1C. In fact, I’m excited to announce that the first of these satellites became operationally usable on January 13 of this year, which marks a significant milestone for the GPS program. We expect additional Block III satellites to become available in the coming months and years ahead, as the modernization effort moves forward. In addition to the space segment enhancements, we also are continuing our work on an upgraded ground control system called OCX. The first phase of this program is now operational and supporting the new GPS Block III satellites. We anticipate further performance improvements and increased capabilities for all users with this system.

The United States is actively engaged in activities related to the United Nations-affiliated International Committee on GNSS (ICG), having been a contributing founder of the organization, which originated out of the Action Team on GNSS, established after UNISPACE III. The United States has hosted the ICG twice, including in 2015, when the 10th meeting was held in Boulder, Colorado. More recently, the United States participated in the 14th meeting, hosted by the Government of India in Bangalore, this past December, and we thank the Indian Space Research Organization for a successful meeting. The meeting’s report was made available to the Subcommittee at the opening of the session. The United States is very pleased with the progress made in the ICG, especially in regards to compatibility and interoperability, and in the area of GNSS spectrum protection and interference detection and mitigation. You may recall that this topic has been discussed within the STSC in recent meetings, and the United States was pleased with the information exchange that occurred. At the 14th meeting, the ICG recommended the development of a technical booklet on the importance of GNSS spectrum protection and interference detection and mitigation.

The United States also remains actively engaged in the ICG work aimed at creating an interoperable, multi-GNSS space service volume, which will enable improved navigation for future space operations beyond GEO to even lunar missions. A booklet on this subject was developed by all GNSS providers and published in 2018 by the United Nations, and members of the Committee continue to build off this cooperative effort.

In addition to the GNSS multilateral cooperation that takes place through the ICG, the United States has many productive bilateral relationships dealing with civil satellite navigation issues. This includes both policy level meetings and technical discussions aimed at ensuring all the systems are compatible and interoperable with GPS, to the extent possible. Throughout 2019, the United States continued its close cooperation with the European Union on GNSS activities under the 2004 GPS-Galileo Cooperation Agreement. We also held productive bilateral meetings with Japan and India on civil GNSS cooperation.

In conclusion, let me reiterate several key policy principles. The United States intends to continue to improve GPS accuracy and availability through the enhanced performance of modernized satellites. The United States intends to continue to broadcast GPS signals free of direct user charges. And, the United States is committed to keeping GPS as a central pillar in an emerging international system of Global Navigation Satellite Systems.

The United States continues to support strong international cooperation for peaceful civil, commercial, and scientific purposes among current and future GNSS providers.

Thank you, Madame Chair.