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posted by azrael on Wednesday November 05 2014, @01:11AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the standing-on-the-shoulders dept.

Sarah Laskow writes at The Atlantic about the KAL 007 incident where the Soviet Union shot down a passenger plane on September 1, 1983, killing all 269 passengers including a US Congressman en route from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage. At first, the Soviet Union wouldn't even admit its military had shot the plane down, but the Reagan administration immediately started pushing to establish what had happened and stymie the operations of the Soviet Aeroflot airline. It is widely believed that Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was already well off course when the crew routinely radioed that it was over its proper ''way point,'' or checkpoint, at a 90-degree angle to Shemya Island in the West Aleutian chain. Ultimately, the Boeing 747 jumbo jet cut across the lower tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula and the southern tip of Sakhalin Island, where it was shot down by a Soviet fighter.

President Reagan made a choice that, while reported at the time, was not the biggest news to come out of this event: Reagan decided to speed up the timeline for civilian use of GPS. The US had already launched almost a dozen satellites into orbit that could help locate its military craft, on land, in the air, or on the sea. But the use of the system was restricted. Now, Reagan said, as soon as the next iteration of the GPS system was working, it would be available for free. It took more than $10 billion and over 10 years for the second version of the U.S.'s GPS system to come fully online. But in 1995, as promised, it was available to private companies for consumer applications. It didn't take long, though, for commercial providers of GPS services to start complaining about the system's "selective availability" which reserved access to the best, most precise signals for the U.S. military. In 2000, not that long before he left office, President Clinton got rid of selective availability and freed the world from ever depending on paper maps or confusing directions from relatives again. "Originally developed by the Department of Defense as a military system, GPS has become a global utility," said Clinton. "It benefits users around the world in many different applications, including air, road, marine, and rail navigation, telecommunications, emergency response, oil exploration, mining, and many more. "

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  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05 2014, @01:34AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05 2014, @01:34AM (#113115)

    Put a Member of Congress on every Plane!

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by isostatic on Wednesday November 05 2014, @01:59AM

      by isostatic (365) on Wednesday November 05 2014, @01:59AM (#113122) Journal

      I assume you know KAL007 had a member of congress on board.

      Plane travel is the safest way to travel. This plane was shot down because the Russains thought it was james bond's plane.

      • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Wednesday November 05 2014, @08:37AM

        by wonkey_monkey (279) on Wednesday November 05 2014, @08:37AM (#113174) Homepage

        I assume you know KAL007 had a member of congress on board.

        I think what he's implying (presumably mostly for comic effect) is that the government pushed for GPS after this incident partly because there was a congressman onboard. So, put a congressman on every plane, and if it goes down, more effort will be made to increase plane safety than otherwise.

        What? It's funnier because I've explained it!

        --
        systemd is Roko's Basilisk
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by M. Baranczak on Wednesday November 05 2014, @01:36AM

    by M. Baranczak (1673) on Wednesday November 05 2014, @01:36AM (#113116)
  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05 2014, @03:48AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05 2014, @03:48AM (#113137)

    Wow - news that's only 20 years old - awesome

    whats next - Napoleon is on the outskirts of moscow?

    Can Hugh Pickens please fuck off to Slashdot, in fact, can Hugh Pickens please just fuck off. (yes I know that the prick is double posting)

    Is there a serious tech site that doesn't have shit like this?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05 2014, @06:00AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05 2014, @06:00AM (#113158)

      If you find one then please let us know. We'd like to cross-post its content to SN and SD.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05 2014, @06:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05 2014, @06:12AM (#113160)

    "Plane crash" makes it sound like an accident.

    • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Wednesday November 05 2014, @12:20PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Wednesday November 05 2014, @12:20PM (#113213)

      The official story is that the aircraft's entry into Russian air space was an accident. However it must have wandered over a top secret missile base or something to freak the Russians out so much they shot it down without even bothering to get a visual ID.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07 2014, @07:55PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07 2014, @07:55PM (#113923)

        They did get a visual id; twice. The Russian - unofficial - story was that they were tired of civil aeroplanes violating military airspace to probe the defences.