IAF 60th Anniversary Award to Recognize the Global Positioning System

Press Release From: International Astronautical Federation
Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011

Marking the occasion of the sixty years since its foundation in 1951, the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) is pleased to announce that its 60th Anniversary Award will be given to the Global Positioning System (GPS), nominated by IAF member, the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

The IAF 60th Anniversary Award recognises an organisation or key individual for a singular and successful project in the field of Space Applications, Space Science and Exploration, which could demonstrate through its implementation, that measurable benefit to humanity has been achieved.

The Bureau of the International Astronautical Federation chose the recipient of the Award on the basis of a recommendation of the IAF's Honours and Awards Committee, chaired by Sir Martin Sweeting, following the committee's evaluation of the proposals.

The Global Positioning System is an increasingly vital part of several critical infrastructures for air transportation, maritime shipping, electrical power, communications, timing natural resources management, and emergency responders at global, national and local levels. The position, navigation, and precision timing capabilities of GPS have enabled the infusion of information technology productivity into traditional physical infrastructures in both developing and developed countries. Like an open source computer operating system, its public interface standards have enabled market-driven innovations in a wide array of applications that were not imagined by the system's creators. The IAF Honours and Awards Committee recognized the uniqueness of the GPS programme and the exemplary role it has played in building international collaboration for the benefit of humanity.

IAF President Berndt Feuerbacher said "There were a number of excellent programmes suggested for this award and I would like to recognise the work of the IAF Honours and Awards Committee in coming to this decision. I am very pleased to recognise the Global Positioning System for the vital role it plays in the modern world. From in-car satnav to disaster relief, from cellular telephony to air traffic control, GPS is an application which is a central part of the lives of nearly every person in the world."

Lt Gen. John T. Sheridan, Commander at the Space and Missile Systems Center Air Force Space Command, states upon his notification: "We greatly appreciate this significant honor that the IAF has bestowed upon the Global Positioning Program. The positive and cross cutting impact of GPS and GPS applications on modern life is indisputable. The ubiquity and breadth of GPS applications defy even the ambitious goals and expectations of its originators. The IAF's 60th anniversary award is an honor and testament to 40 years of dedicated effort by thousands of people including members of the Dept of Defense, civil agencies, defense contractors, private industry, academia and countless others who invested their best efforts to create and improve GPS capabilities. And as if the technological and physical achievement of GPS wasn't enough, the United States government has provided this revolutionary "utility" free of charge to billions of users across the globe. I am extremely proud of the U.S. Air Force's stewardship of this vital mission and the dedicated men and women who make this life changing capability available day in and day out with unparalleled accuracy and reliability. While this award recognizes today's program, I see an even brighter future ahead where GPS and its user community will deliver a significant increase in the existing capability, create profound applications we haven't even dreamt of yet and continue to lead the evolution of navigation and timing for future generations."

AIAA President Mark Lewis congratulated the GPS programme upon this exceptional award: "Notwithstanding the many scientific and technical achievements that have come from human and robotic spaceflight and the revolutions created by satellite communications, weather satellites, and remote sensing, GPS is the space programme that touches and aids more humans every minute of every day in every corner of the globe."

The Award, consisting of a certificate and a trophy, will be presented at the 62nd International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.

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