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Issue 9: Critical Perspectives

New U.S. GPS Policy From a European Perspective

Martin U. Ripple and Alexis Vidal

Download the full paper in PDF (616 KB)


On December 8, 2004, the President of the United States of America authorized the new U.S. Space-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Policy. This new policy sets forth a forward-looking framework for the management of GPS and its augmentations. In particular, the new U.S. policy mentions interaction with other satellite navigation systems.

Following the establishment of a U.S.-E.U. framework agreement for cooperation between GPS and Galileo, signed on June 26, 2004, European policy makers and industrialists expected clear statements on cooperation and interoperability issues from the new U.S. GPS policy. Regrettably, the related recommendations hold short of the need for cooperation as it focuses on space supremacy and military usage. The future coexistence of separately run and managed GNSS constellations raises many questions in security and safety related areas. Here, constructive and collaborative work is more than necessary, as the first Galileo satellite is planned for launch by December 2005. So far it looks like further action has to be envisaged in order to achieve the maximum of the framework negotiation in terms of cooperation. The ambitions of both the U.S. and the E.U. to cooperate in the satellite navigation area can rely on strong foundations on which to build, thanks to former transatlantic cooperation in space.

The present decisive period for space policies therefore constitutes a window of opportunity which requires concrete actions to begin a new form of active collaboration. If GPS and Galileo are destined for a peaceful cohabitation in space, there is still much work ahead of us. The creation of joint, international offices, involving public institutions and industry, would be of great interest to further develop positioning, navigation and timing services worldwide. It would allow nations to better serve their own interests through coordinated activities in maintenance tasks or upgrades as well as for the commercialization of dedicated satellite services.


  • Reprinted with permission from The Institute of Navigation ( and The Proceedings of the 18th International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation, (pp. 407-413). Fairfax, VA: The Institute of Navigation.


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