Why The US Air Force Gave GPS To The Public For Free – $12 Billion Price Tag, What’s The Catch?
Can you imagine life without a Global Positioning System (GPS) these days? Honestly, it is so hard to believe that we once used paper maps to get around. GPS is a readily available to the public, but not many people know that this revolutionary technology was once only limited for use in the US Military.
Back in the late 1970s, the United States Government launched satellites into orbit that could track the position of any location on Earth. This network of satellites became known as the Global Positioning System and was operated by the United States Air Force. Initially, the system was used by the United States Military, Navy and Air Force to provide them with pinpoint locations while on missions.
The GPS network is comprised of 31 satellites orbiting the planet and at any given time 4 of them can cover the entire earth’s surface. The entire GPS program cost upwards of $12 billion to launch and daily it costs $2 million per day to operate so why was it given to the public for free? It was after all a military program and giving away those secrets could cause harm to US Forces.
In the end, there are massive economic benefits as well as life benefits that help people know where they are and where they are going. The US Military realized it does more good for the world than bad so that’s why it is available for free. If you would like a better look at the US Air Force’s history with the Global Positioning System just check out this video from Real Engineering.