Russia Restricts GPS

WORLD

Russia has started to impose restrictions on Global Positioning System (GPS) base stations in Russia, as retribution for the refusal of the United States to allow similar base stations on American territory that would improve the accuracy of Russia’s navigation system, GLONASS. (New York Times)

Use our resources to better understand GPS.

This is an older model of a GPS ground monitor station, used from 1984-2007. (Today, it's on display at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.) Russia has restricted use of such stations in its territory. Photograph by Bubba73, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

This is an older model of a GPS ground monitor station, used from 1984-2007. (Today, it’s on display at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.) Russia has restricted use of such stations in its territory.
Photograph by Bubba73, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Discussion Ideas

  • Read through the NY Times article. Why are American and Russian officials worried about the military potential of GPS or GLONASS monitoring stations?
    • According to the article “the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon spent months pressing the State Department to back away from plans to allow Glonass stations on American territory, citing fears that they might aid Russia in spying on the United States, or could even improve the accuracy of Russian missiles.” Russia is presumably worried about the same thing.

 

  • If Russia is concerned about the military and espionage potential of GPS stations, why aren’t other countries that use the system concerned about the same thing?
    • Well, they are. Nations with substantial space programs are developing their own satellite navigation systems, both global and regional:
      • BeiDou-1 is a regional system developed by China that covers most of eastern Asia, including in China, Mongolia, the Koreas, Southeast Asia, India, the Philippines, and parts of Russia, Japan, and the Stans. BeiDou-1 supplements global systems such as GPS and GLONASS.
      • Galileo is a global system being developed by the European Union with partner countries including Norway and Switzerland.
      • BeiDou-2, sometimes nicknamed COMPASS, is a global system being developed by China.
      • IRNSS is a regional system being developed by India. It will supplement global systems such as GPS and GLONASS.
      • QZSS is a regional system proposed by Japan. It will supplement global systems such as GPS and GLONASS.

 

 

  • If you were a Russian diplomat, would you recommend allowing GPS stations to be used for military purposes? Would you recommend allowing them to be built at all? Why or why not?

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