According to a report in The Guardian, the US Global Positioning System is in such a state of disrepair, it's in danger of rolling blackouts or failure as early as 2010. GPSpocalypse? Paper Mapageddon?
Considering the level to which GPS has been integrated into strategic military operation, not to mention modern life, one might have imagined the US Air Force, which operates the system, would have been a bit more vigilant on its upkeep. Apparently, the combination of government bureaucracy, private sector incompetence, and plain old fashioned bad management have left the network of orbiting satellites in aged and on the brink of failure. Normal system maintenance is to send up a replacement satellite and let the other burn up in the atmosphere, but the $2 billion replacement program has been plagued by delays and overspending. The first replacement was scheduled to launch at the beginning of 2007 but is is scheduled to launch in November of this year, nearly a three year delay.
Granted, the US isn't about to let a system with such utility simply fail, but at this rate, there may be adverse effects in military and civilian applications. The fewer operational satellites sending triangulation data to your satnav, the less accurate your location will be on the map. Soccer moms and UPS drivers everywhere will be left aimlessly wandering the nations streets till they run out of fuel, then seen futilely inputting new destinations, all for naught. Those of us who still use paper maps and remember where things are won't even notice. [Gizmodo]