Loran C off the air

bbruhns at erols.com bbruhns at erols.com
Thu Aug 12 08:58:21 CDT 2010

In the middle of this discussion, a co-worker came into my office and told me that WWVA's towers were piled on the ground.  At first I thought "Oh no, they took more of the WWV channels off the air," but then I remembered that WWVA is an AM broadcast station on 1170 KHz.  Evidently their self-supporting three tower array came down in a storm around August 6.  Breakdowns happen.

As for Loran, while I like the idea of terrestrial backup to satellite geolocation systems, how many users will spend the money to buy a backup system?

The situation reminds me of the emergency management people thinking that they can run their operations on cellphone networks.  But when their plan A fails, they will learn the lesson yet again, as even the cell towers with backup generators run out of fuel, as emergency crews try to reach them in motorboats.

But probably the breakdown of the satellite systems will not be sudden or immediate.  Most likely the satellite systems will gradually decay and fail, as economic reality mandates their abandonment.  As that happens, we will look for alternatives, and (hopefully) we will do what makes the most sense.  Possibly some upstart system will become popular when it happens to be the only system that works any more.  If conditions get worse, I would expect some form of Loran to return to service.  Maybe another simple Transit-style LEO system will be launched.  But multi-billion dollar systems may start dying in committees.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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