July 2011 Meeting Summary

Dr. Phil Diamond spoke to the Southern California Section about On the Origins of the Global Positioning System on Thursday, July 28th 2011 at NavCom Technology. There were 40 in attendance. A brief bio and abstract of the talk follows.

Abstract of Dr. Diamond’s Talk:
Phil would like to have an informal discussion during which he will provide an overview of the early days of GPS development, including the historically important events, organizations and personalities involved, including his own personal contribution to the creation and development of the system. This is a rather special opportunity to hear from one of the original team. The Southern California Section management will try to have several other pioneers in attendance.

Ten years of development were required to achieve the Global Positioning System, beginning in 1963, by The Aerospace Corporation, the USAF Space Systems Division (Space and Missile Systems Organization [SAMSO]), and a number of other DoD agencies and several industry contractors.

With formal DoD approval in 1974, funded development contractor effort began towards a satellite launch in 1978. The ten years of development can be viewed, in retrospect, as occurring in five overlapping phases:

  1. Concept Feasibility: 1963-1964
  2. System Preliminary Formulation and Identification of Technology Requirements: 1964-1968
  3. Technology Development and Demonstration: 1966-1970
  4. System Definition: 1970-1974
  5. Mission and Operations Analysis, and Advocacy (towards formal DoD approval): 1968-1973

This ION session is intended to illuminate, from a historical point of view, as outlined above, how we came to the formal DoD approved GPS Program. We will discuss the following subjects in reference to the above:

  1. How the basic concept came to the author and how its fundamental feasibility was demonstrated.
  2. The results of the System Formulation and Technology Requirements activity.
  3. Some of the principal Development and Demonstration projects.
  4. The nature of the System Definition functions.
  5. The myriad of hoops through which we had to jump in order to get to final approval and contracting for the Program.

Featured will be naming of the principal contributors, the various agencies involved, and their roles. Some anecdotes will be offered which illuminate personalities and attitudes of the agencies.

Capsule Biography of Dr. Phil Diamond 
Dr. Diamond was born in 1930 and was raised in The Bronx, New York City. He graduated with a B.S.M.E. degree in 1951 from New York University. He took a position at Bell Aircraft Corporation in Buffalo, N.Y. in the Rocket Division and became the Director of the Hydraulics Research Laboratory. While there, he graduated from the University of Buffalo with an M.S.M.E. degree. His thesis was entitled “Flow in Short Tubes” (as in rocket motor injectors). From 1953 to 1958, Dr. Diamond attended Purdue University and was employed as a Research Assistant in the Rocket Laboratory, graduating in 1958 with a Ph.D. degree. His thesis was entitled “The Performance of the 90% Hydrogen Peroxide-JP-5 Rocket Propellant Combination”. After three years at Convair in Ft. Worth, Texas, he joined The Aerospace Corporation in Los Angeles. He rose to become the General Manager, Development Planning Division and retired in 1992. From 1992 to 1998, Dr. Diamond was employed as a consultant to various aerospace companies. During his employment at The Aerospace Corporation, he also contributed as a member of several National Committees, including the NASA Space Science and Technology Advisory Committee, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, The Army Scientific Advisory Board, and the National Academy of Sciences Naval Studies Board. Phil was married in 1953; he has four children and ten grandchildren. He and his wife, Enid, a retired Professor of Mathematics, live in Palos Verdes Estates, California. His main hobby (other than his grandchildren) has been designing, building, and flying radio controlled model aircraft.