I’m sure by now that everyone who has been paying attention knows the Obama Administration’s insatiable appetite for cony capitalism, especially when it comes to shoveling “green energy” subsidies to Obama campaign donors.
But never mind that. The latest Obama scandal has the potential to kill more Americans than Fast and Furious, maybe by three or four orders of magnitude.
The high level summary: A project backed by a prominent Democratic donor might interfere with GPS.
I used to work at both a GPS company, and a company producing RF chips for commercial computer use, so I have a little more technological background on this issue than some. Here’s a summary of the issue by the former Chief Technology Officer of one of the companies I used to work for:
LightSquared uses spectrum right next to GPS, and they expect to have both terrestrial and satellite broadband links. GPS signals are already quite faint by the time they reach the earth’s surface, and any adjacent interference could severely impact the performance of a GPS receiver – its location accuracy could be impaired, or it may not work at all. There are millions of GPS receivers in both civilian and military systems that could be impacted…it would be impossible to retrofit all of these with a fix, so the onus is on LightSquared to figure out how to avoid interfering with GPS.
Here’s another overview:
GPS satellites broadcast a 50-watt signal from 12,000 miles up, across an entire continent, said Pete Large, a vice president at GPS vendor Trimble Navigation who works with the Coalition. By contrast, the LTE base stations used in the recent tests produced signals of up to 1,600 watts within about a mile of GPS receivers. LightSquared’s signals were stronger by 1 billion times or more, Large said.
So GPS signals get overwhelmed by a local source. What’s the worst that could happen?
Well imagine a Boeing 787 Dreamliner conducting an nighttime instrument approach to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport when the GPS signal is overwhelmed at a critical phase. Now imagine that same Boeing 787 Dreamliner plowing into downtown Arlington, Virginia at 150 miles per hour, leaving a wake of bloody body parts and burning jetfuel for a quarter-mile.
That’s the worst that could happen.
How likely is that worst case scenario? Well, consider that news just broke of the U.S government test of LightSquared technology. The result?
– Philip Falcone’s proposed LightSquared Inc. wireless service caused interference to 75 percent of global-positioning system receivers examined in a U.S. government test, according to a draft summary of results.
The results from testing conducted Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 show that “millions of fielded GPS units are not compatible” with the planned nationwide wholesale service, according to the draft seen by Bloomberg News.
“LightSquared signals caused harmful interference to majority of GPS receivers tested,” according to the draft prepared for a meeting next week of U.S. officials reviewing the LightSquared proposal. “No additional testing is required to confirm harmful interference exists.”
(Hat tip: Slashdot.)
It was bad enough when the Obama Administration was just wasting taxpayer dollars on well-connected business cronies like Solyandra. But Fast and Furious has helped kill hundreds of Mexicans and at least one U.S. border patrol agent, all for the the purpose of promoting gun control. In trying to help another batch of well-connected Democratic cronies at LightSquared, the results could easily be hundreds or evn thousands dead. And it might not just be one airliner, because there’s no guarantee the accident investigation would find the cause quick enough to prevent a re-occurrence.
Will the Obama Administration back off it’s efforts to ram through LightSquared approval despite the scientific evidence? Will LightSquared stop trying to get the technology approved?
Don’t bet on it. From the same story:
LightSquared is “outraged by the illegal leak of incomplete government data,” Harriman said in an e-mailed statement. “This breach attempts to draw an inaccurate conclusion to negatively influence the future of LightSquared and narrowly serve the business interests of the GPS industry.”
Yeah, the GPS industry does indeed have a strong business interest in not seeing thousands of people die. Whether the the Obama Administration shares that concern enough to turn their back on a major Democratic donor less than a year before the 2012 elections remains to be seen.