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Xairos Newsletter: August 17, 2022
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Xairos Newsletter: August 17, 2022
✍️ Theme of the Week

Jack of All Trades, Master of None
GPS is the Swiss Army Knife of our modern world.
It provides position for airlines, ride sharing, location apps, farmers, satellites, and surveyors.
The timing it provides is even more critical.
All communications, financial transactions, data centers, and power grids need it.
Initially designed for the military, it now touches all aspects of our life and creates trillions of dollars of economic benefit.
But that omnipresence also prevents much-needed change; there are simply too many stakeholders with different requirements.
The main stakeholder, the Department of Defense (DOD), is slowly working on a replacement but one tailored to its specific needs.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is also working on a backup but is paralyzed by the wide range of requirements (see below).
Time to swap the Swiss Army Knife for a specific tool: a commercial global timing system.

Last Week's Theme: Time to Save the World

🏆 Achievements
  • Expanding the team, wrapping up the summer internship program, and building a Board of Advisors.
  • Working on overseas projects and expansion.
  • Hit a major milestone with the proof-of-concept (POC), now working on new algorithms, and configurations and development of terrestrial fiber, free-space, and satellite demonstrations.
  • Developing new commercial projects and partnerships.
📰 Industry News
  • The UK is looking at a range of PNT solutions after leaving the European Galileo program and in response to growing concerns about Russia’s attacks on GPS: “It is a well-known fact that Russia has the ability to jam GPS quite pervasively and the war in Ukraine magnified and amplified that point.” There are now concerns about hosting PNT on OneWeb with the proposed Eutelsat merger, due to Eutelsat’s ties to China and Russia.
  • Russia launched a suspected “inspector satellite” that is “in a similar orbit to one of our high-value assets for the U.S. government. And so we'll continue like we always do, to continue to update that and track that," Dickinson continued.
  • It was noted last week that the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfers (STTR) programs are at risk of lapsed funding. But there is push back from some in the DoD who are raising the “alarm that the US will lose ground to China in the competition over critical technologies if the program isn’t reauthorized.”
  • Another article dissects the quantum funding buried in the US CHIPS and Science Act.
  • If you ever want to look at GPS jamming hotspots, check out this heat map collected from aircraft broadcast digital radio messages (ADS-B) data collected by “a network of thousands of enthusiasts who receive those signals.” And GPS jammers are getting cheaper - only $1!
  • The US Naval Research Laboratory has prepared a series of Quantum Navy videos “highlighting the importance of quantum research for the 21st century U.S. Navy.”
  • First there was physical money, then cryptocurrency, and now quantum money: “a form of currency that employs the strange laws of quantum mechanics to ensure that it cannot be copied but at the same time can be easily verified.”
💼 Conferences
🎓 The More You Know...

Jack of All Trades, Master of None Part II
A fundamental problem with GPS is that it has too many diverse users with different needs.
Any discussion about improving or replacing GPS inevitably draws in "too many cooks."
Recently, the DOT held a round table to gather industry inputs.
It went about as well as could be expected, spurring the Resilient Navigation and Timing (RNT) Foundation to issue a letter with suggestions on how to move forward:

  • The government has done enough studies of PNT technologies.
  • Government investment is essential.
  • DOT must lead this effort.
  • Government should contract for PNT services vs build and own civil PNT systems.
  • Implementing alternatives to GPS will address a gaping National Security vulnerability. Not having these capabilities allows the United States to be held hostage by threats to GPS.

Meanwhile, the DOD is also working on a replacement leveraging multiple PNT technologies.
But, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, this may be slowing progress: "efforts to develop multiple alternate PNT efforts have interdependencies that could impact the overall effort. If one effort is delayed or has technical problems, it would likely affect DOD’s overall ability to have resilient PNT."

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