Media Note
Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Washington, DC
October 6, 2011


On October 4, the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) presented a special award to the Global Positioning System (GPS). The award was presented during a special ceremony at the 62nd International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. General William L. Shelton, Commander, United States Air Force Space Command, accepted the award on behalf of the program.

The award given in honor of the 60th anniversary of the IAF recognizes an organization or individual for a successful project in the field of space applications or space science and exploration, which demonstrates, through its implementation, a significant and measurable benefit to society. While many nominations were received, the IAF Honors and Awards Committee voted unanimously to grant the award to the GPS program for its unique and significant role in improving the quality of life for all of humankind.

GPS is increasingly becoming a vital and familiar aspect of everyday life for individuals, communities, and businesses around the world. GPS-based positioning, navigation, and timing is now a critical component of communications and information infrastructures, transportation in the air, on the sea, and on land, electrical power distribution, natural resources management, and emergency response at global, national and local levels. Without the GPS program and the service it provides, the benefits of economic efficiency and market-driven innovation that receiver manufacturers and applications developers bring to users of GPS technology worldwide would not be possible.

The United States Air Force acquires, develops, operates, maintains, sustains, and modernizes the GPS constellation on behalf of the United States. The Department of State's Office of Space and Advanced Technology within the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs facilitates international cooperation related to GPS and leads bilateral and multilateral discussions in pursuit of compatibility and interoperability with other global navigation satellite systems.

The IAF is one of the world’s leading space advocacy organizations with 205 member organizations in 58 countries. It maintains a worldwide network of experts who seek to promote and advance the knowledge of space science for the benefit of humanity.