GPS System Could Fail Next Year: Report

A blackout of the Global Position System could occur next year as a result of mismanagement by the U.S. Air Force, a watchdog group says.

The GPS system, which relies on a constellation of satellites, could fail next year because the launch of replacement satellites has been so delayed that the older models may simply fail, according to a Government Accountability Office report detailed in PC World magazine.

The locator devices are "essential to national security" and a potential blackout would impact military operations and also the millions who use the satellite-based systems in their vehicles, the agency said.

"Such a gap in capability could have wide-ranging impacts on all GPS users," the report says, "though there are measures the Air Force and others can take to plan for and minimize these impacts."

The mismanagement and underinvestment in the network is likely to blame for the potential failure, and the Air Force, which runs the satellites, has "struggled to successfully build GPS satellites within cost and schedule goals," in recent years, according to the report.

The first replacement satellite is slated to be launched in November -- three years after it's original launch date.

The Air Force developed the GPS system during the 1980s. 

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