Global Positioning System and its Impact! Did you know GPS began as a military navigation tool in the early 1960s? Later the U.S. Air Force became the lead organization for developing this system. GPS benefits the world in many ways from cell phones to military weapons to work in ways that have changed our world since the 1970s. The Department of the Air Force manages the Global Positioning System (GPS), providing super-accurate position, navigation, and timing information to users worldwide, for free. The exhibit describes what GPS is and how it works by outlining satellite and ground systems and their historical development. It explains how atomic clocks and GPS satellites enable all kinds of important activities. These include mapping and navigation for everyday users and the military, commerce, farming, construction, cell phone systems, the power grid, and even climate research. The exhibit also explains how satellite orbits work, and it outlines the problem of “space junk.” Interactives and videos help all ages better understand GPS, learn how to find their location on the Earth, and see how orbits and satellites work.