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14 April 1998
For Immediate Release

GPS Contributions Put APL in Space Hall of Fame for Third Time

For its contributions to GPS -- the Global Positioning System -- The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Md., has been inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame for the third time.

Richard B. Kershner, APL's first Space Department Head, was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame for his role in developing satellite navigation science and technology ultimately used by GPS.

The ceremonies took place at the United States Space Foundation's 1998 National Space Symposium, "The Global Relevance of Space: Civil, Commercial & Military," in Colorado Springs, Colo., on April 9.

Tom Krimigis, current APL Space Department Head, says the inductions are a tribute to superb work by many people. "Dr. Kershner and the Transit program proved many of the technologies that were essential to the realization of GPS."

APL invented satellite navigation with its development of the Transit Navigation Satellite System. Work on the system began shortly after the Soviets launched Sputnik in October 1957, and the system - used first by the U. S. Navy and later by civilians - became fully operational in 1964. The system was retired from Navy service in 1996 having achieved a reliability of 99.86 percent for more than three decades.

Many of Transit's innovations -- particularly development of a satellite-borne, ultrastable oscillator to maintain precise frequencies and time, and the use of dual frequencies to overcome the signal-distorting effects of the Earth's atmosphere -- are essential for precise navigation-by-satellite. Also, the Transit program made great advances in the knowledge of the Earth's gravitational field, thereby dramatically improving the ability to track satellites, including those of the GPS system, which has replaced Transit for global satellite navigation.

Development of the GPS navigation system began in 1973. Since then it has grown into a constellation of 24 satellites, a worldwide satellite control network, and more than 120,000 receiver systems that provide positioning data and other services to private and commercial users around the world.

The Space Technology Hall of Fame, Colorado Springs, Colo., was established in 1988 by the United States Space Foundation in cooperation with NASA to honor innovators who have transformed technology originally developed for space use into commercial products; to increase public awareness of the benefits of space spinoff technology; and to encourage further innovation.

In 1988, APL was one of the first five organizations to be inducted into the newly formed Hall of Fame for its Programmable Implantable Medication System (PIMS). PIMS inventor Robert Fischell was inducted as an individual for his contributions to the technology.

APL was inducted into the Hall of Fame for a second time in 1991 for its role in developing the Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, known as the Mirowski device.

The Applied Physics Laboratory is a not-for-profit laboratory and independent division of The Johns Hopkins University. APL conducts research and development primarily for national security and for nondefense projects of national and global significance. Located midway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., in Laurel, Md., APL employs 2,700 permanent staff.

For more information contact

For more information, contact APL Public Information Officer Helen Worth; phone: 240-228-5113 or 410-778-5113.