October 27, 2009

Colloquium Speaker: Brad Parkinson


Brad Parkinson Stanford University - Edward C. Wells Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Emeritus Education Ph.D., Stanford; S.M., MIT; B.S., US Naval Academy Other Experience Chair, Aerospace Corporation Board of Trustees Chair of the NASA Advisory Council Co-chair, Jet Propulsion Laboratory Advisory Council Commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Air Safety and Security VP & Gen. Mgr., Intermetrics, Inc. President, Plantstar Inc. (subsidiary) VP, Rockwell International (Space Systems Group) Professor, Colorado State University First Program Director of NAVSTAR/GPS through first space launches) Instructor at AF Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB Department Head, US Air Force Academy Astronautics & Computer Science) Graduate of Defense Systems Management School Honors Co-Recipient, Charles Stark Draper Prize 2003, with Dr. Ivan Getting, first president of Aerospace Corporation Member, National Academy of Engineering Fellow, IEEE Fellow, AIAA Fellow, Royal (Institute of Navigation (RIN)) Gold Medal, RIN Thurlow Award, Institute of Navigation (ION) Legion of Merit (U.S) Best Program Director in USAF (1977)


Colloquium Topic: The Origins of GPS and the Role of APL in the Technology

As a young Air Force colonel in the 1960s, Parkinson was the person most responsible for synthesizing elements of the competing navigational systems proposed by the Space Division and supported by Aerospace, the Applied Physics Laboratory, and the Naval Research Station into a single, viable concept. He then tirelessly pushed his vision through the Department of Defense (DOD) until he obtained approval for the program in 1973. After receiving permission to go ahead with GPS, which became the first joint, multiservice, military program office, he shepherded GPS through the developmental phase of concept validation. This phase successfully launched the first GPS satellites, tested the user equipment, and verified the 10-meter accuracy proposed by Parkinson.