Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.)
Space Systems Academic Group (SSAG)
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The Transit satellite system, sponsored by the Navy and developed jointly by DARPA and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, under the leadership of Dr. Richard Kirschner at Johns Hopkins, was the ﬁrst satellite-based geopositioning system. Just days after the Soviet launch of Sputnik 1, the ﬁrst man-made earth-orbiting satellite on October 4, 1957, two physicists at APL, William Guier and George Weiffenbach, found themselves in discussion about the radio signals that would likely be emanating from the satellite. They were able to determine Sputnik's orbit by analyzing the Doppler shift of its radio signals during a single pass. Discussing the way forward for their research, their director Frank McClure, the chairman of APL's Research Center, suggested in March 1958 that if the satellite's position were known and predictable, the Doppler shift could be used to locate a receiver on Earth, and proposed a satellite system to implement this principle.
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