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Dr. Frank T. McClure, also of the Applied Physics Laboratory, reasoned in reverse: If the satellite orbit was known, Doppler shift measurements could be used to determine one's position on Earth. His studies in support of this hypothesis earned him the first National Aeronautics and Space Administration award for important contributions to space development.
In 1958, the Applied Physics Laboratory proposed exploring the possibility of an operational satellite Doppler navigation system. The Chief of Naval Operations then set forth requirements for such a system. The first successful launching of a prototype system satellite in April 1960 demonstrated the Doppler system's operational feasibility.
The Navy Navigation Satellite System (NAVSAT, also known as TRANSIT) was the first operational satellite navigation system. The system's accuracy was better than 0.1 nautical mile anywhere in the world, though its availability was somewhat limited. It was used primarily for the navigation of surface ships and submarines, but it also had some applications in air navigation. It was also used in hydrographic surveying and geodetic position determination.
The transit launch program ended in 1988 and the system was disestablished when the Global Positioning System became operational in 1996.