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Old May 31st 16, 08:15 PM posted to sci.geo.satellite-nav
Sam Wormley[_2_]
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Default Marconi Prize for 2016 Goes to Brad Parkinson

Marconi Prize for 2016 Goes to Brad Parkinson

The Marconi Society has awarded its 2016 Marconi Prize to Bradford
Parkinson. The $100,000 prize, given annually, recognizes major
advances in the field of information and communication science which
benefit humanity.

Parkinson’s contributions to the development of GPS helped create the
vast global utility that provides positioning, navigation, and timing
(PNT) information to the world and is a vital part of today’s global
information infrastructure. The early stages of GPS were very nearly
derailed and the U.S. Air Force might have abandoned its development
had it not been forced to fund it. In a historic decision, the Air
Force selected a project leader uniquely qualified to make it a

A Bit of History. Lt. General Kenneth Schultz, Space and Missile
System Office (SAMSO) Commander, called Colonel Parkinson to his
office in November, 1972. The General’s purpose was to discuss a
floundering USAF program called 621B, which was attempting to create
a global navigation service using satellites. Parkinson wasn’t
interested. “I already had a super job with a hundred million dollars
of play money every year that I could spend on anything related to
ballistic missile re-entry,” he recalls. Meanwhile, the incipient
GPS program was mired in technical challenges and in competition with
other ideas within the Dept. of Defense.

The General insisted. Parkinson, a rising star and perhaps the top
military expert on inertial navigation, had one question. If he
accepted the assignment, would he be in charge of it? When the
General said, “I can’t promise that,” Parkinson said, “Then I don’t

Fortunately, Schultz went ahead anyway. By the time Parkinson was ten
feet out the door, the General had called personnel and initiated his
transfer — in the process giving the young colonel the authority he
had requested. With sinking heart, Parkinson realized he had
inherited a lot of good underlying thinking, but so much infighting
that the program had ground to a halt.


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