Many things in life are given a second chance. Every time you pop something in the recycling rather than landfill it gets a second chance. You’ll have likely fallen out with a friend, family member or colleague at some point but have reconciled your differences and given them a second chance. Flares, SodaStream, Polaroids, Tamagotchis, lava lamps and even bumbags have seen a resurgence in desirability and been given a second chance…arguably some should have stayed in the 90’s, but you can be the judge on that!
However, in space, second chances are few and far between.
Once equipment is launched into space manual intervention is not an option (with a few exceptions). A recall is out of the question. Design changes must consider the existing equipment or replace it entirely. In short: you get one shot, make it count.
A lot of space infrastructure has done just that and is testament to those who designed it and put it in place, but without constant replacement and evolution everything starts to creak and move towards obsolescence. Though there was undoubtedly a plan of sustained maintenance at the outset, years down the line things always change as different pressures come to the fore. You look at the future of some satellite constellations and wonder how much more they’ve got to give.
So, what do DDK Positioning do to mitigate against impending obsolescence? Well firstly we deliver our GNSS augmentation over the Iridium NEXT constellation which began to phase out the previous Iridium SSC constellation in 2017 and was completed in 2019. The NEXT satellites have just begun their 15+ year mission so have plenty gas in the tanks. On top of that, Iridium is already planning the next generation and are committed to the evolution of their network.
Not only are the NEXT satellites, there’s also plenty of them in orbit. On top of the meshed network of 66 satellites which make up the primary constellation, there are an additional 9 in orbit spares with a further 6 ground spares available for launch. Though this is handy for both planned and unplanned maintenance in the near term, this will become invaluable in the future particularly as the satellites approach their design life. These spares will be used to ensure the constellation remains fully populated and therefore obsolescence is kept at bay.
The other key space-based ingredient to our positioning service is access to consistent, reliable GNSS signals. When it comes to GNSS satellites, the constellation that immediately springs to everyone’s mind through sheer constant exposure is GPS, however, consideration should also be given to GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou. These constellations are not immune to obsolescence either and are constantly being refreshed, some more so than others. As these constellations are owned, not by private companies, but by , the influences of political change, economic change, world events or war are even more profound in the future of these systems.
At DDK Positioning our receivers can utilise all the available constellations and our Precise Point Positioning engine focuses on the use of three constellations. “Why not use them all?” you may ask. Well, it comes down to bang for your buck. Although we’ve trialled the use of four constellation in the solution, we found that three gives the optimum accuracy for the related data volumes and computational load. However, we know we can do this, it works and that we’ve got the option to swap out aging constellations for newer ones if required. As such we continue to monitor what’s going on up in space and are ready to react.
We’re all guilty of being so caught up in the here and now that we don’t always take time to consider the future, particularly when it comes to things we don’t see! Now might well be the perfect time to ask yourself:
- What satellite services am I currently using?
- What could happen to them in the future?
- And where does that leave me?
If the answers to the above concern you, or if you want to explore some options or solutions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DDK Positioning have got you covered, and that’s why we confidently claim: Accuracy Everywhere!