In 2006, India announced the Indian Regional Navigation System (IRNSS), joining the ranks of countries with plans for indigenous navigation systems. IRNSS is to be a ##-satellite geostationary and geosynchronous system developed over the next six to seven years.
The first launch of Japan’s Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) is scheduled for 2009. QZSS uses ## geosynchronous satellites in orbital planes designed to have observed elevations of 60 to 70 degrees over Japan. These observed elevations will avoid interference from urban canyons or mountains.
Galileo, Europe’s proposed ##-satellite navigation constellation, reached a key funding agreement in 2007 when the European Council agreed to fund the project entirely though the European Union community budget. The hoped-for significant private-sector participation did not materialize. With these issues resolved the constellation could be operational as early as 2013.
Russia has recently committed to upgrading its Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) to full operational capacity of ## operational satellites by late 2009. The GLONASS system, once set to rival the U.S. GPS system, saw its number of operational satellites fall from ## in 1995 to seven in 2001 due to financial difficulties and the relatively short lifetimes of the individual satellites. In 2007, Russia launched ## GLONASS-M platforms and began operating ## additional satellites that had been launched in late December 2006.
The U.S. Navigation Signal Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System (NAVSTAR GPS or GPS) continues to be the only fully operational navigation constellation and therefore the most popular. GPS consists of ## active satellites in ## medium Earth orbit planes. According to the Department of Defense (DoD), “the fundamental concept of GPS is to use simultaneous distance measurements from ## satellites to compute the position and time of any receiver.” The GPS signal is available at no cost to users around the world and has spawned many commercial applications.
NASA’s future exploration plans include outposts on the Moon, though many of the details and specifications for these habitats are yet to be determined. According to NASA: “Astronauts will set up a lunar outpost — possibly near a south pole site called Shackleton Crater — where they’ll conduct scientific research, as well as test technologies and techniques for possible exploration of Mars and other destinations.”
An entrepreneurial company, Bigelow Aerospace, is developing an in-space platform based on inflatable technology originally conceived in NASA’s TransHab program. It is building modules that can be used as platforms for in-orbit accommodations, research, and training. Bigelow has launched two prototypes into orbit: Genesis I in July 2006 and Genesis II in June 2007.
The largest in-space platform ever constructed is the International Space Station (ISS). The development of the ISS, led by the United States, “draws upon the scientific and technological resources of 16 nations: the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, 11 nations of the European Space Agency, and Brazil,” according to NASA.[
AGI designates remote sensing satellites as surveillance/military satellites. Exhibit 3p (below) provides the number of these satellites by country. AGI reports ## active U.S. surveillance/military satellites that it designates as having “unavailable” orbital parameters. In addition, the line between some remote sensing and Earth science satellite classifications is not always clear-cut.
Remote sensing satellites provide images of the Earth for civil, scientific, military, and intelligence applications using a number of different technologies.