The Department of Defense (DOD) initiated the Navigation System with Timing And Ranging (NAVSTAR) Global Positioning System (GPS) in 1973. The DOD developed it because at a cost of over twelve billion dollars the government had the monetary resources to achieve idealistic goals of national defense. The GPS Master Control Station controls NAVSTAR GPS, which is at Falcon Air Force Base outside Colorado Springs, Colorado. This satellite system is used to determine the speed and position of an object anywhere in the world within one hundred meters to mere millimeters depending on the size and quality of user equipment (GPS Joint Program Office). GPS achieves this accuracy by using twenty-seven satellites that are launched into six specific orbits that are 20,200 kilometers above the Earth to cover the whole globe. GPS uses ground tracking stations around the world to compute distances by finding the difference between the time a signal is sent and the time it is received (Kaplan).
The NAVSTAR GPS was first designed to aid the military for tracking and navigation of ground, sea, and air forces. The United States Armyâ€™s original purpose for GPS was for â€œhyper-accurate missile targeting.â€ (Loy) Since that time it has grown from one satellite used strictly by the military to twenty-seven satellites that can be used by civilians and private corporations also. Presently, access to the GPS satellite system is available to anyone with a GPS receiver; is this ethical? At its inception, GPS technology was available to the civilian public, but the signals sent to civilian GPS receivers were purposefully distorted to make sure that civilians around the world were not able to achieve militaristic goals. This was dubbed Selective Availability (SA). SA was put in place so that not everyone could have access to a â€œhyper-accurateâ€ satellite system. As of May 2000, the government adjusted the GPS satellites so that a civilian can have GPS readings that are as accurate as military readings.