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'Father of GPS' Receives the IEEE Medal of Honor (eetimes.com) 22

"A former paperboy from Wisconsin passionate about maps led the team in the Air Force responsible for designing the navigation system we use everyday," writes Slashdot reader dkatana. IoT Times reports: At the IEEE honors ceremony today in San Francisco, Bradford Parkinson, a retired Air Force colonel who spent his life between maps and navigation systems, will be awarded the 2018 IEEE Medal of Honor, "For fundamental contributions to and leadership in developing the design and driving the early applications of the Global Positioning System." The current Global Positioning System (GPS) did not exist until 1995, just 22 years ago, and the engineer who led the project for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) was Mr. Parkinson.

Parkinson, whose first job was delivering newspapers, had a passion for maps. He used those maps when canoeing to navigate the lakes and streams of Minnesota, aided by a hand compass. When he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, he joined the Air Force to study navigation systems. In 1960, when his superiors saw his engineering potential, they sent him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue graduate studies. He became a protegee of Charles Stark (Doc) Draper, the father of inertial navigation, who was teaching at MIT at the time. Draper was the lead engineer developing the computer systems for NASA's Apollo program. [...] It was in 1972 when his path on inertial navigation collided with satellite systems. He had been recently promoted to colonel when he received a call from another colonel who was part of the Air Force inertial guidance "mafia." He moved to Los Angeles and joined the group, a bunch of Air Force engineers from MIT. Then Parkinson asked to work on the Air Force 621B program, the genesis of GPS.

'Father of GPS' Receives the IEEE Medal of Honor

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  • Father of GPS? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeff1946 ( 944062 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @07:17PM (#56598726) Journal

    Roger Easton is a better candidate see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    As I recall both the Navy and the Air Force had different ideas for a GPS system. Eventually the Navy version was selected and the Air Force was chosen to manage it. The Air Force system as I recall involved a mix of low orbiting satelites and geo-syncronous ones.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      The Navy still want an underwater GPS, using buoys and accoustic spekers distributed across the world.

      https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.... [jalopnik.com]

    • Roger Easton is a better candidate see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] As I recall both the Navy and the Air Force had different ideas for a GPS system. Eventually the Navy version was selected and the Air Force was chosen to manage it. The Air Force system as I recall involved a mix of low orbiting satelites and geo-syncronous ones.

      I'd mod this up if I had points. Roger Easton is the inventor of GPS and a better pick for this award.

      • Roger Easton is a better candidate see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] As I recall both the Navy and the Air Force had different ideas for a GPS system. Eventually the Navy version was selected and the Air Force was chosen to manage it. The Air Force system as I recall involved a mix of low orbiting satelites and geo-syncronous ones.

        I'd mod this up if I had points. Roger Easton is the inventor of GPS and a better pick for this award.

        On second thought, maybe the fact that Parkinson is still alive might have some bearing on who won the award.

        • Roger Easton was without a doubt the father of satellite navigation systems. Colonel Parkinson, as I met him and presented proposals to him when I was at Rockwell International, was the ramrod, the father, of GPS, also without question.

          I say that without reservation even considering that he hired some consultants to help critique our presentations that went on to become our competitors on the next generation of the pre-launch test receiver for the GPS satellites. That smudges his reputation. But, he's still

  • 'Father of GPS' Receives the IEEE Medal of Honor

    I first read that as "FREE Medal of Honor" and wondered, "do other people pay for theirs?"

  • by xx_chris ( 524347 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @08:26PM (#56599014)
    Didn't he get a PhD from Stanford and teach at Stanford?

    https://profiles.stanford.edu/... [stanford.edu]
  • Gravity Probe B? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thogard ( 43403 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @09:00PM (#56599098) Homepage

    The main article mentioned it but he was also involved in Gravity Probe B which was what he was working on when I meet him.

    He was heavily involved in fixing the relativity issues in the Navstar system and might have been the key person on that.

    Dr Draper's project was the key in developing many of the early advances in making the integrated circuit and digital processing. In the days before Apollo, NSAS had a problem where they would measure the altitude of a rocket with pressure and radar altimeters in the rocket, altimeters and radar in chase planes as well as using radar and optical tracking from the ground. They spent months trying to figure out why the error was increasing over the downrange distance for all the techniques. The ground station would report the lowest, and the chase planes reporting slightly higher with the closest one reporting lower than the rocket. When they flew the 1st inertial guidance system a young engineer pointed out the error they had been looking for was a result of the earth being round compounded with speed of light issues.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.

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