The Contribution of Navigation Technology Satellites to the Global Positioning System
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC
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The Navigation Technology Satellites, developed by the Naval Research Laboratory, have been provided as a vehicle for the design and test of basic satellite navigation technology currently in use in the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System GPS. Two satellites, TIMATION I and II, were flown in 1967 and 1969 to demonstrate the concept of using synchronized clocks to provide time ranging for navigational purposes. Navigation Technology Satellite 1 NTS-1, flown in 1974, introduced a rubidium atomic clock, and NTS-2, flown in 1977, introduced a cesium clock. Both clocks provided increasingly superior navigation accuracy. A hydrogen maser clock for even better performance and reduced dependency on ground updating is being developed. In addition to the clock development the technology satellites have tested the effect of the radiation environment, the use of retroreflectors for laser tracking, and improved solar cells and batteries. As a result of NTS-2 tests the Air Forces Space and Missile Systems Organization SAMSO program office stated that the NAVSTAR GPS concept had been successfully validated.
- Unmanned Spacecraft