Losing GPS signal is a common and frustrating problem for hikers who regularly use their GPS receiver to track progress – yours truly included. We all know that narrow canyons and thick tree canopy can cause signal loss, but other times it can go out even if you have a clear view of the sky. I’ve previously written about this loss of accuracy problem, and how the government was a bit behind on their satellite maintenance, but now it seems like someone’s pushed enough paper to get things moving.
Spurred by GPS signal issues in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan, the military’s Strategic Command has ordered a “satellite surge,” calling for three new GPS satellites in orbit, bringing the total number to 27. The first one has already been launched, and the remaining two are slated to launch by next January – a full year ahead of schedule.
Civilian GPS enthusiasts use the same network of satellites the military does, albeit with a limit on its accuracy, so we outdoorsy types may see an improvement in reception over the next year as the new satellites are brought online.