John Petersen (Judge for DaVinci’s Immortalizer Technologies Project) doesn’t like surprises, but he studies them for a living. The director of the Arlington Institute, a scenario-planning outfit in Virginia, helps the government think about the unthinkable. His latest inquiry: What if the US Global Positioning System stopped working?
It’s not as far-fetched as it might sound. Eighteen of the 28 satellites in the GPS constellation are operating past their intended lifespan or suffering from equipment failure. There have been three launch incidents in the past five years, and the Air Force, which maintains the 20-year-old network, is overburdened with competing space priorities.
Given the circumstances, planners are concerned with the system’s health.