The Air Force Space Command last month dis covered a technical error hidden inside the GPS IIF satellites. Thought to thave existed since 2013, this week it was announced that the error actually originated much earlier than originally thought. Channel News Asia reported that analysis revealed that the issue actually first appeared in 2011, only a year after the launch of the IIF satellites were put into operation.
The error itself is a technical messaging error which affects theway the GPS ground control system builds and uploads messages transmitted by the effected satellites. According to the articles I’ve read, the issue was extremely infrequent and may have effected as few as 14 messages since 2011. To put that in perspective, the GPS system has uploaded probably slightly less than 90,000 messages since 2007.
While I haven’t seen any indication as to how this error was finally discovered, Lockheed Martin Corporation has placed a ‘workaround’ for the meantime to prevent further errors. According to reports, Lockheed and the Air Force are working together to find a software solution to this issue.
The GPS IIF satellites were first launched in 2010 to replace older GPS satellites. The most recent launch occurred earlier this year, with another scheduled for June. The US GPS system has been fully operational since 1995.