Wednesday, April 11, 2007

High Frontiers

Let’s step into the world of aviation for a moment, shall we?

The move in recent years has been to transition to GPS and scrap ground-based systems like VORs and LORAN. GPS is more accurate and cost effective. But recent solar activity has put a temporary halt on total GPS reliance:

Scientists at last month’s Space Weather Enterprise Forum in Washington, D.C. said one of them “produced 20,000 times more radio emissions than the entire rest of the sun, enough to swamp GPS receivers over the entire sunlit side of Earth.” Unusually, even the more robust WAAS signals were affected. Loran advocates have long proposed the system as a necessary backup during GPS outages.

This is interesting for another reason. China has been developing and testing ‘satellite killer’ technology. Imagine the havoc if all flights were grounded due to a number of GPS satellites being destroyed, rendering the system unusable and grounding all commercial flights and crippling the military.

Keeping a ground-based system is an excellent idea. Radical Islam is indeed the enemy of today, but China is setting the chess board so as to someday have us in a checkmate before we even know we’re in a conflict.

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